Sleep for Focus and Success
In our busy lives, we often sacrifice the things we need the most to be healthy and recover from our hard workouts. Unfortunately, sleep and nutrition are often the first two to go. It’s important to say it right from the start here when it comes to sleep, there is no such thing as “catching up”. We should aim to have the same amount of hours of sleep whether it is a weeknight or weekend night. Not only that, heading to bed at the same time every night is essential in setting up the body’s circadian rhythm for success.
This means optimal performance throughout the following day! Even more, getting both sleep quality and quantity on a regular basis leads to overall optimal health and vitality. You absolutely CAN NOT recover and experience the true adaptations from your hard work in the gym if you do not get enough quality sleep, and at the right times.
Sleep requirements may differ from person to person. However, the goal is to aim high. Listen to your body and count the number of hours of sleep after a morning waking up refreshed. If your body demands 7-9 hours, then try to aim for 9 hours! Teens may demand at least 10 hours nightly while toddlers demand even more.
Although as adults, some of us do not have the luxury of scheduled bedtime, we should aim to get at least 7 hours of sleep, if not more, each night. Furthermore, the goal is to achieve restorative sleep. START by setting a routine of maintaining the same bedtime and wake-time every single day!
Sleep appears to affect our hunger, our metabolic rate, our weight, our immune system, and even the compassion we feel for others! These effects involve our thinking, choices, and emotional state. This means that sleep influences many aspects of our brain function, including (according to various studies) our risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
Sleep loss has also been linked to numerous other serious health conditions, including obesity, heart disease, diabetes, etc. More research is suggesting that inadequate and/or fragmented sleep may even be linked to premature death in older adults.
Sleep deprivation doesn’t just make us cranky; it also compromises our immune system, which increases the likelihood of getting sick! So for the sake of our loved ones and our immune system, let’s aim to get enough sleep every night. While it is understandable that we have busy lives and often not enough time in the day for all of the demands on our time, nothing you do will destroy your focus and success faster than cumulative sleep deprivation.
(Editor’s Note: I can not emphasize enough how important this is! If you are a client of mine you will hear me say it all the time. Your excuses do NOT make a difference. If you are burning it down in the gym, but not getting proper sleep, you are most likely doing more damage than you are recovering from. This is the opposite of what you want from all that effort you are putting out! -Varg)
5 Simple Sleep Solutions:
- Darkroom at nighttime – make your bedroom a haven for sleep
- Avoid all electronics in bed and a couple of hours before bedtime – these include ANY devices with a screen: phones, computers, TVs, and any other devices that excite the brain (*including night-lights)
- No caffeine intake after 2pm – ideally none after lunch
- Seek out morning light – helps set the internal biological clock
- Wind down – listen to yourself and ease into a bedtime routine
“Sleep is not an optional, lifestyle luxury. Sleep is a non-negotiable biological necessity. It’s a life support system” ~Matthew Walker, PhD.
Nhi received her Bachelor’s Degree in Food Science & Human Nutrition at the University of Florida in 2014, and her Master’s Degree in Physician Assistant Studies also from the University of Florida in 2017. She works full-time in primary care enhanced by the field of functional medicine as a PA-C, helping people heal and thrive with healthy lifestyle choices. She enjoys educating patients on healthful living and taking charge of their lives by optimizing all the components of health and performance.