Today’s world is stressful. Kids, work, education, or whatever fills your day leaves you little time for the things you love doing. Throw in the need for exercise and sleep, and something’s gotta give - right? Too often people admit they only get 4-6 hours a sleep per night. Adults need 8 hours, and children need even more. Days can be so stressful that we shave a few hours off our sleep by staying up late binge-watching Netflix or waking up earlier to squeeze in a workout – or sometimes both! But is this good for our health? The experts say NO.
A recent article by the New York Times* and a quick search of WebMD** discuss the health impacts of sleep deprivation: High Blood Pressure, Risk of Heart Attack, Cognitive Performance Loss, Mood Issues, Attention Disorders (ADD & ADHD), just to name a few. Additionally, lack of sleep impacts our hormones leading to increased chance for weight gain and obesity.*** None of this is good.
The Solution: Make getting both exercise and 8 hours of sleep a top priority in your life and cut out something else if you want to be healthy. Exercise helps you sleep better, and keeps you healthier. Win, win situation!
TIPS for Better Sleep from the Sleep Foundation****
- Set a sleep schedule – go to bed and wake up at the same time every day (10pm to 6am)
- Wind down - practice a relaxing bedtime ritual (i.e. dim the lights, turn off the electronics, etc… for 1 hour before bed)
- Exercise daily – Intense exercise is best & don’t jeopardize sleep for exercise
- Optimize the room – temperature set between 60-67 degrees, no TV, no light, no disruptive noises, etc…
- Optimize your mattress – make sure your mattress is supportive and comfortable
- Natural light exposure – get enough natural light exposure during the day to optimize your circadian rhythm
- Avoid sleep disrupters – avoid alcohol, cigarette, and heavy meals in the evening
TIPS for Optimizing your Exercise
- Any amount of exercise is better than none (if you only have 15 min, squeeze it in!)
- Resistance Training and High Intensity Aerobic & Anaerobic exercise is best
- Exercise during your normal waking hours (don’t jeopardize sleep for exercise)
- Warm up properly
- Stretch after every workout
- Don’t over train; make sure you recover fully between workouts
Don’t go through life in a sleep deprived fog like so many of us do. Once you start prioritizing exercise and sleep you will be amazed at how good you feel. And, if for some reason you get off track, don’t sweat it! Just get back to following the plan above and you will be on your way to a healthier, fitter life.