What if I told you that all you have to do is sleep more and it will help you lose weight/bulk up/tone/whatever your fit little heart desires? Have I got your attention? You’ve been told a million times about the importance of eating well and breaking a sweat for reaching and maintaining a healthy body weight, but have you ever truly considered the role of sleep in that equation? I’m sure we can all think of some meathead with biceps the size of cantaloupes who lives on energy drinks and gets only 2 hours of sleep a night, but he is the exception (and only a momentary exception at that) to a long ignored rule of physical fitness. Arguably my favorite rule of fitness: Get more sleep.
We live in a world where people brag about pulling “all-nighters” and where 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep sounds like a dream. 35% of U.S. adults aren’t even getting 7 hours of sleep at night. That sucks. Now, maybe I’m biased because I have an autoimmune disease that makes sleep even more necessary than it is for most people, but here is what the science has to say: sleep is VITAL to muscle recovery, memory, focus, mood…the list goes on and on. Without enough sleep, a person is more likely to be at risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and heart failure. Read that again. Basically, without enough sleep, you’re more likely to die–have I convinced you yet?
Assuming you don’t want to be at risk of that slew of health problems, how can you ensure you are getting enough rest? A consistent night time routine is key. For me, this looks like winding down at the same time every night with a cup of peppermint tea, meditating for a few minutes, throwing on a sleep mask, and hopping into bed. This process gives my brain the time to know “oh, she’s drinking this tea and sitting without a screen, looks like its time to slow down and get ready for sleep”. I am definitely not perfect with this routine, but the more consistent I am, the better my sleep is and the better my workouts are as a result.
It’s time to take back control of your schedule and make yourself a priority. Find a routine that works for you, stick to it, and reap the health benefits of a good night’s sleep.