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Sleep: The Real Heavy Hitter

Losing sleep over lack of sleep? Here's how you can reclaim your forty winks and make real gains in your workouts through better sleep, starting tonight.
Ash Kavanagh

Lack of sleep = low power mode for your body

Here’s the score. Regardless of your health and fitness goals, be it fat loss, getting jacked, coming back from an injury, it all starts (and stops) with sleep. This is our body’s opportunity to recharge and reset. It’s just like your phone – we get anxious when we see that power bar drop at the top right corner of the home screen. Because we know once that battery goes, it can make life hard. Same with a lack of sleep. 

A good night’s sleep is a fundamental need  for our brains to function normally. It keeps our emotions in check. It keeps us clear headed and more focused, something that can make or break a morning commute, the day at the office, and yes, you guessed it, exercise. No wonder life feels more difficult when you’ve had a restless night!

It’s not just a bad mood, there’s some real science behind this. Sleep (or lack thereof) has a big effect on our circadian rhythm and our hormones. For example, when we don’t get enough sleep, our leptin levels drop. This is the hormone that makes us feel more full. Conversely, ghrelin, the hormone that increases appetite, goes up. Our brain starts to crave comfort food, which is why that Prêt pastry might look so much more tempting when we’re running on empty.

So how do you know if you aren’t getting enough sleep?

Yes, the obvious, you may feel like Oscar the Grouch, Eeyore, or The Grinch! 

You may crave comfort foods

You experience brain fog 

Sex drive begone

You feel anxious

You’re hitting the snooze button like there’s no tomorrow

Here’s the second score: sleep deprivation is a very common thing. Many people think they’re doing ok on 4-6 hours a night but don’t realise the gains they could make if they slept the recommended 7-9 hours per night. 

Better and more sleep will help you lose weight, make you sharper during the day, increase your metabolism and reduce the temptation to snack.

How to sleep better at night

Sleep deprivation is extremely common. So much so that there are a lot of really helpful lifestyle hacks and apps you can try.

  • Try cutting down on screen time, especially at night. The blue light that comes off screens sends a signal to our brain to stay alert, making it harder to unwind before bed.
  • Avoid spending time in your bedroom unless it’s for sleeping or sex. This conditions our brain to associate the bedroom with bedroom-only activity. 
  • Try apps like Headspace or Clementine, both have sessions devoted to sleep, even aimed at people who wake up in the middle of the night. 
  • Try using a sleep tracker, like Sleep Cycle. This app records your sleep pattern and gives you a full report the next morning of any sleep talking, snoring and gives you a breakdown of when and how long you were in each stage of sleep. It also has wind down exercise and sleep sounds and a story library for you to listen to while you nod off. Bonus: it has an alarm designed to wake you up in your lightest phase of sleep. 

Remember, there's no “one-size-fits-all” when it comes to the best sleep. You may not need 9 hours of sleep (or even have time for that depending on your routine and commitments) but finding your most optimal amount of zzz’s is worth the effort. Most people don’t realise they aren’t getting enough sleep until they really feel it, which is what you want to avoid. 

No matter what 2022 holds for you, make improving your sleep a priority and give yourself the best chance at smashing your goals.

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