How many of yall actually get that recommended 8-hours of shut-eye every night? Try as I might, I fall short more often than I should.
The National Sleep Foundation makes it clear that the ideal amount of sleep for an adult is not a cut and dry issue. Sleep need is affected by the interaction of numerous other factors – stress (both physical and psychological), health, accute/chronic disease, hormonal imbalances, addictions (or even mere over-reliance on caffeine), energy levels, and overall lifestyle.
Now, I am all about getting more sleep. Part of it is pure vanity, because the bags under my eyes never lie about how much sleep I’ve been getting…but mostly, I prefer to feel like a functional human throughout the day. There are few things more irritating than being tired and unable to keep your eyes open in the middle of a busy day. I’m sure most of yall know the feeling. The thing is, a night of poor sleep carries more than just the immediate consequences of feeling like garbage the next day. Poor sleep can negatively affect leptin and ghrelin levels (hormones that alter appetite and satiety), body composition, obesity risk, recovery from illness/injury, mental health, and many other facets of health.
If you want to know how to get more (REM) action in bed, you can try implementing some of these practices.
- Go to bed at the same time each night. (It really, truly helps.).
- Wake up at the same time each morning. (This is easier if you’re going to bed at the same time each night).
- Turn off all the lights when you sleep (yes, including electronics).
- Save your bed for sleeping and “horizontal cardio,” so that you train yourself to associate being in bed with sleeping (rather than sleeping/working/writing/folding clothes/making phone calls/etc.).
- Take time to unwind/relax so that when you go to bed, you are truly ready to sleep. (Note to self: Jamming out new content late at night and then jumping into bed never works out well.)
- If you’re going to take a nap (which can be a great way to alleviate sleep debt), make it earlier in the day rather than later.
- Avoid drinking too late at night (alcohol may make you sleepy, but it wreaks havoc on the quality of your sleep).
- Of course, the Sleep Foundation has lots of great resources for improving sleep…and there are plenty more suggestions for sleep-help here.
Now I’ll be the first to admit that all of the above is easier said than done. But I’ve experienced the difference in my mood and my workouts when I’m sleeping well and when I’m not, and it’s clear that cultivating better sleep habits is well worth it. Of course, sometimes it’s also worth it to make exceptions (A hot date? So worth it.)…but in general, I’d much rather call it an early night and be able to smash my deadlifts the next day.
How much do sleep do you average each night?
Are you one of those napping wizards who can fall asleep anytime, anywhere?