Top Fitness Tips: (Number 2)

Get Enough Sleep:

Sleep plays a major role in the repair and maintenance of all systems of the human body both physical and psychological. While you sleep the body works hard to repair, recover, build, strengthen, grow and defend. Therefore, if you are chronically under rested these processes will be disrupted. As a result people who suffer from chronic lack or poor quality of sleep are likely to experience effects such as decreased brain function, poor immune and insulin responses, reduced alertness and concentration, reduced desire to exercise along with many more.

Another side effect of sleep deprivation is that the brain will crave food (generally the not so healthy types). Hormones such as Ghrelin (hunger hormone) and Leptin ( satiety hormone) which are responsible for regulating hunger and satiety become unbalanced – Ghrelin increases while Leptin decreases. This then can lead not only to an increase in calorie intake but also to a decrease in calorie expenditure as you suffer from a lack of motivation to exercise due to mental and physical fatique. These put together will lead to weight gain.

How can we improve our sleep?. We can look at this through a couple of angles. Firstly, we can look at the environment in which we sleep – the bedroom. Now, like most things there is no one cap fits all but here are some things you should try and do…

  • Remove or turn off all electronics at least 30 mins before going to bed. Artificial light interferes with our production of melatonin, which ensures deep sleep and may help regulate metabolism.
  • Make the room as dark as possible.
  • Make sure the room is at a comfortable temperature. Most people sleep better when it is cool whilst some prefer a neutral temperature. Find what works best for you.
  • Create a relaxing sleep area. Your bedroom should be quiet, peaceful, relatively organised and free of anxiety-inducing clutter. If you live in a built up area consider a white noise machine to drown out noise from outside.

Secondly, we can look at our own behaviors before going to bed…

  • Develop a Routine  to help you de-stress. If you don’t have a routine then develop one. Introduce relaxing activities such as reading, meditating, yoga, listening to soothing music.
  • Reduce caffeine intake. Caffeine antagonizes adenosine (another ingredient to promote restful sleep).
  • Limit alcohol. Alcohol is a depressant that has sedative-like effects; however, it also causes an individual to wake frequently during the night. Limit your intake of alcoholic beverages before bed or late in the evening.
  • Exercise. Regular exercise helps to normalize your body’s 24 hour clock, regulate your fight or flight system and optimise your hormone levels. However, try to avoid intensive exercise late in the evening as it can make it difficult to get to sleep.
  • Aim for 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep per night.