Has this happened to you lately? You stayed up late last night to finish a project, then woke up groggy only to realize that you’d slept through the alarm clock. In a rush, you skipped breakfast, then almost fell asleep in the middle of an important morning meeting. It’s now mid-afternoon and, as you’re having yet another cup of coffee while stifling a yawn, you realize you’re practically sleep walking through your days.
You’re not the only one! Nightly sleep for the average person has dropped dramatically. According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), nearly half of all adults admit they sleep less so they have more time to work, or play. Although most experts agree that the average adult needs eight hours, most of us tend to burn our candle at both ends.
But how do you get off this sleep deficit merry-go-round? It’s easy for me to tell you to get more sleep, but what if you’re simply spending frustrating hours in bed tossing and turning, having trouble finding that elusive deep slumber?
Healthy sleep is every bit as valuable to your overall well-being as exercise and good nutrition. Research shows that a lack of proper deep sleep undermines the body’s ability to fight off disease. Perpetual sleepiness can reduce the quality and quantity of your work by a third, according to the NSF. This would include your workouts! If you’re having major problems in your sleep life, you probably should consult a doctor. Keep in mind that where and how you sleep is just as important to how much sleep you get. Further research the best “gear” to give yourself a good head start when it comes to sleep comfort. Places like Kakun Sleep have specific products that allow you to create a customized sleep system.
For most of us who are having trouble sleeping, there’s a simple cure: exercise. Working out regularly has been shown to reduce episodes of insomnia. What’s more, it promotes improved sleep quality by producing smoother, more regular transitions between the cycles and phases of sleep.
Exercise lasting 20 to 30 minutes three or four times a week generally results in better sleep and more energy. You may have to find your own exercise rhythm– some people can exercise any time, while others do better if they work out in the morning or afternoon, not near bedtime. But, vigorous exercise during the day and mild exercise before bedtime will not only help you fall asleep and stay asleep more easily, but will increase the amount of time you spend in deepest sleep phase.
As if that wasn’t enough of a bonus, exercise offers many other mental benefits:
- Reduces stress by helping to dissipate the lactic acid that accumulates in your blood
- Sharpens your brain by increasing the amount of oxygen available
- Eases built-up muscular tension
- Strengthens and stimulates your heart and lungs
- Stimulates your nervous system
- Increases your production of endorphins, the substance which creates a sense of well-being and increases your body’s resistance to pain (helpful for WODs!)
- Stimulates release of epinephrine, a hormone that creates a sense of happiness and excitement
- Increases deep sleep, as the brain compensates for physical stress
There’s no doubt about it: there’s nothing better than a good night’s sleep!