Sleep Hygiene. If you’ve never heard this phrase, it’s probably because you are already getting great sleep. But if you’re one of the 51% of adults worldwide who are trying to figure out what you can do to get a better night’s sleep then you’ve definitely heard of sleep hygiene. To put it simply, sleep hygiene is “good sleep habits.” This includes everything from your bedroom environment to daily routines.
Benefits of Good Sleep
A good night’s sleep is just as important as regular exercise and a healthy diet! First, there is the obvious fact that getting enough sleep just makes most people feel and function better. Studies have also found that, like exercise, individuals that have better sleep patterns are at a lower the risk for obesity, hypertension, and elevated blood sugar. Sleeping allows your body to rest—it lowers your blood pressure which puts less stress on your heart and blood vessels.
Sleep also acts as a reset not only for our body, but also our brain. While you sleep your brain is hard at work processing memories and emotions so that when you wake you can be in a better mood and process new information faster.
Does Exercise Help You Sleep?
YES! Exercise is one of the best things you can do to help your overall health and that includes helping you to sleep better. It seems counterintuitive—you’re tired therefore you don’t have the energy to exercise. Wrong. It’s a cycle; you need sleep to have enough energy to exercise and you need to be tired to sleep. Making sure you get your workout in does several important things to encourage your sleep-wake cycle.
- Reduce anxiety: For many people stress and worry are two of the major things that keep them awake at night. Imagine being able to help fight off those feelings with your 30-minute Loyalty Fitness workout! Exercise does this by releasing endorphins, our body’s natural feel-good chemical which helps combat stress and anxiety.
- Burn more energy: The biggest factor linking sleep and exercise is that it burns energy, pushing you towards tiredness. Being less active throughout the day means that your body just hasn’t used enough of its energy to feel as if it NEEDS to rest. By making sure you are getting in regular amounts of exercise, you’re helping your body use the calories you consume to burn enough energy and send sleepy signals to your brain. Working with a personal trainer is an excellent way to build fitness into your routine and start the ball rolling towards better sleep.
- Let in the light: Concerned that you don’t have enough time to workout regularly in order to help your sleep? A super slow strength training routine with Loyalty Fitness is easy—just two 30-minute sessions each week. On other days, a walk in the sunshine is all you need! Exposure to natural light will help your body adjust its internal clock, contributing toward better sleep at night.
Just like exercise, your diet can impact your sleep as well. We all know that a “heavy meal” may make us feel sleepy, but it’s hard to fall into a solid sleep with indigestion and a full stomach. Eating foods that are high in sugar and carbohydrates, or simply eating a lot at night right before bed, can negatively affect the quality of your sleep. Maintaining a healthy diet that is rich in whole foods containing a balance of macronutrients can both give you energy to workout and set the stage for a solid night’s sleep.
How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Having daily habits that will help to promote consistent, uninterrupted sleep is a good place to start when you’re looking to revamp your sleeping schedule.
One of the best things you can do for yourself is to make sure you are getting the right kinds of light. It sounds silly, but it really is essential. Your body’s circadian rhythm depends on getting bright natural light each day. The best way to do this is to make sure you’re getting outside in the sun, especially first thing in the morning. Exposure to sunlight early and throughout the day will help keep your internal clock in check while also boosting your vitamin D levels.
While natural light is great, you should try to limit “blue light”, especially in the evenings. The biggest emitters of blue light are electronics like your smart phone and your TV. By using these devices at night, you actually trick your brain into thinking that it is still daytime and that you should still be awake. It also suppresses the secretion of melatonin, your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle hormone.
Other important things you can do to encourage a good night’s sleep:
- Get into the habit of practicing relaxing techniques at bedtime such as meditation, journal writing or even making a gratitude list
- Try sipping soothing non-caffeinated drinks such as a hot cup of tea or lemon water
- A warm shower or bath at bedtime can trigger relaxing feelings that will encourage sleep
- Make sure your bedroom is cool and dark.
- Remember to get your exercise in during the day!
And lastly, try to go to bed and wake up at same time every day! This small adjustment will help maintain your internal clock and can help you fall asleep and wake up more easily.
Getting good sleep is just another important component of whole-body wellness that we’re committed to here at Loyalty Fitness. Be sure to talk to our certified personal trainers if you have questions about sleep, nutrition and of course strength training. We’re here to help!