The Importance of Sleep

by Coach Rachel

Many people neglect the amount of sleep that they need or are proud of how little they can get by with. The fact is that low sleep levels can result in high cortisol levels. Cortisol is an adrenal hormone which can increase your insulin sensitivity and blood glucose levels. Commonly thought of as the ‘stress hormone’, cortisol is one of those hormones you want to have in a healthy middle range. Too high is bad (especially at the wrong time) and too low is also bad. Many people artificially try to manage their cortisol levels through depressants in the evening (alcohol to relax) and stimulants in the morning (coffee, soda, five hour energy drink).

This means that you can be exercising and eating the right way, and miss the performance, health, and body composition results you would expect because you aren’t sleeping enough! Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control recently announced that shift work (aka-lack of sleep) is a known carcinogen. Lack of sleep can short circuit your fat loss, make you fat, sick, diabetic and prematurely add wrinkles to your skin.

Sleep is one of those FREE, miracle cures that people don’t utilize because it is too available, too easy, and because they’d rather watch television or be on their phones.

How much sleep is enough? 8 to 9 and a half hours a night! Some people can get by with less, but the way to tell is if you wake up without an alarm feeling refreshed.

The first step is to prepare your bedroom for optimal sleep conditions. If you have a television in your bedroom, you are sabotaging your sleep chances. Your bedroom (when sleeping) needs to be completely dark. This means no tv’s, computers, or alarm clocks. Turn the alarm face down or face it away from your bed if you must have one. Fire alarms need to have their lights covered. Windows need to be completely covered and dark with black-out curtains.

It is best if you set a schedule for sleep. Going to bed at the same time every day, including weekends, helps your body set its internal clock. Try not to stay up late or sleep in on weekends. You are just confusing yourself.

If you aren’t tired at ‘bedtime’ look closely at the activities you are engaged in prior to going to bed. About a half hour prior, I like to get off the computer, turn off the television, and read with a low reading light. It’s amazing how quickly I get tired. Computers and TV’s emit a ‘blue light’ which acts as a stimulant to our brains, sabotaging our efforts to go to sleep and rest peacefully.

To review, here’s our recipe for a good night’s rest:

  • A regular sleep schedule, seven days a week
  • A quiet and pitch black bedroom. No night lights!
  • Get off electronic gadgets ½ hour prior to bed time

Categories: WOD

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