When it comes to taking on a health and fitness routine of any kind, one thing many of us often forget – between drinking enough water, eating enough veggies, and doing enough exercise – is to make sure we're getting enough sleep.
Sleep is actually considered to be the most important aspect of any fitness routine, which means not getting enough of it could lead to things like weight gain and injury.
Research shows that a good daily sleep routine of 7-9 hours per night increases the amount of Human Growth Hormone (HGH) that is secreted within the body to help build muscle while we sleep.
As Australian Institute of Fitness Master Coach Brodie Hicks explains to Yahoo Lifestyle, this hormone is extremely important when it comes to recovery between bouts of exercise. Therefore, the better you sleep, the quicker you recover, and the more exercise you can sustain.
"Lack of sleep, on the other hand, can cause a reduction in the secretion of this key muscle recovery hormone, and delay the rates of recovery," Brodie tells us. "In addition, poor sleep can reduce the intensity at which you can train, while simultaneously making training feel actually harder than usual."
Studies also show that individuals who regularly sleep less than five hours a night are more likely to gain weight than those who sleep between 7-9 hours.
With all of this in mind, Brodie has shared with use six top sleep tips to help you level up your fitness results.
It’s a classic ‘chicken and egg’ scenario but, in many ways, sleep and exercise are reliant on one another. Good quality sleep is required to improve exercise performance, while regular exercise can assist with improving sleep quality. In short: exercise equals better sleep; and sleep equals better exercise.
Introduce a sleep routine
Being consistent with your sleep and waking times can aid long-term sleep quality. Aim to go to bed and wake up around the same time every day to get your body into a rhythm.
Create a conducive sleeping environment
These factors include temperature, noise, external lights and furniture arrangement. Try to minimise external noise and artificial lights from devices like digital alarm clocks and mobile devices. Make sure your bedroom is a quiet, clean, relaxing and enjoyable place without clutter.
Take your TV out of the bedroom
This may be difficult for some, but the benefits of taking your television out of the bedroom can be immense. Excessive blue light exposure from TV, phones, and laptops can affect your circadian rhythm, tricking your brain into thinking it’s still daytime. This reduces hormones like melatonin, which help you relax and get into deep sleep. Ultimately, the bedroom should be reserved for two things: sleep and intimacy.
Don’t take long naps during the day
While short power naps are beneficial, long or irregular napping during the day can negatively affect your sleep. Sleeping in the daytime can confuse your internal body clock, meaning that you may struggle to sleep at night.
Practice meditation or relaxation techniques before bed
Relaxation techniques before bed have been shown to improve sleep quality and are another common technique used to treat insomnia. Strategies include listening to relaxing music, reading a book, taking a hot bath, meditating, deep breathing, and visualisation.
March 19 is World Sleep Day.