The Importance of Quality Sleep

Good quality sleep is one of the most important things a person can do to help them recover not only from hard training sessions, but also from life’s stresses in general. Life is full of stressors that we all encounter on a day to day basis whether it be from work, family, or a hard work out, these all can affect our sleep quality. If you aren’t getting a solid 7-9 hours of good sleep a night then there are things you can try to help improve the quality.

First thing is to try limiting the intake of food right before bed. Researchers have found that consuming a high caloric meal prior to bed can lead to restless sleep. This is because your insulin rises and interferes with the production of leptin, the hormone that tells you that you aren’t hungry. Leptin also helps regulate the thyroid which aides in mobilizing fat for fuel while you sleep. Eating too close to bed time inhibits this process from occurring the way it should. It is recommended to eat about 3 hours prior to turning off the lights for bed so that your insulin has time to drop and leptin can regulate properly and do the job it’s meant to do.

Secondly, try to make sure that your bedroom is cool and dark. This environment promotes better quality sleep as well as a slightly higher metabolic which can aide in the utilization of fat for fuel as you rest. Because body temperature is going to be lower because of the lower temperature in the room the body speeds up fat utilization to help regulate the body’s temperature. Sleeping in a warmer environment also can promote restlessness.

Third thing to try to do to improve your quality of sleep is limit electronic exposure before bed. Electronics have a higher concentration of blue light than natural light. This higher concentration of blue light stimulates your brain and decreases your bodies ability to produce melatonin which is a sleep-inducing hormone. This will alter your bodies natural circadian rhythm. About an hour before bed turn off all electronic devices in your room so that light exposure from them don’t over stimulate the brain and keep it awake.

These are just a few simple strategies to get you started towards a better night’s sleep. Good quality sleep is imperative to recovery, especially if you are training hard and trying to change your body composition. Recent studies have shown that shifts in our circadian rhythm and lack of sleep can have devastating affects on our bodies including a higher risk certain types of cancers (breast and prostate), diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Not to mention, good quality sleep leads to better mood and improved focus throughout the day! If you are lacking in quality sleep try these strategies out and see if they help. Better sleep leads to a better you!