When was the last time you woke up feeling refreshed, not needing your morning cup of coffee to get you going? If you can’t recall, you are not alone. Two-thirds of adults throughout all developed nations do not get the recommended 8 hours of sleep each night.
This may not seem like a big deal, until you do the research and learn that routinely sleeping less than 6 or 7 hours a night:
- Demolishes your immune system, more than doubling your risk of cancer
- Is a key lifestyle factor in determining the development of Alzheimer’s disease
- Disrupts blood sugar
- Increases likelihood of heart disease and stroke
- Contributes to depression, anxiety, and suicidality
- Can cause weight gain
- Can make it difficult to lose weight
As a professional coach in the fitness industry for the last 10 years, I am most frequently asked about those last two involving weight loss. I am also often asked about how to gain lean muscle mass, or increase athletic performance. Many people look immediately to diet and exercise to make such changes, and while those are excellent places to adjust on an individual basis, the preeminent force in this health trinity that is frequently overlooked is SLEEP.
Sleep is an underrated, often forgotten component in living a long and healthy life. It is often times the first thing to go with busy work, school, and family schedules. For many of us with young kids, those late hours we should be sleeping may be the only “quiet time” we have, so we feel the need to catch up on work we didn’t get done earlier in the day, or enjoy some time to ourselves, often in front of a TV or other device. What we don’t realize is this very precious time could be better utilized by doing the single most effective thing we can do to reset our brains and body health…SLEEP.
There are many components of sleep that will fill several blogs over the next few months, but today I just want to emphasize one part that can useful to everyone right away:
You may be surprised by the chart above, and may even be thinking “there is no way I can allocate THAT much time to sleep!” Instead of focusing on what you think you can’t do, focus on what you will gain once you do make adequate sleep a daily part of your health routine:
- Better mental acuity
- Increased, sustained energy
- Better mood
- Reduced stress
- Reduced risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke
- Better able to maintain a healthy weight
Even if you are someone who thinks only in the short term, who isn’t worried about things that might happen in the future like heart disease, imagine how much more productive and efficient you could be at work or for your kids if you had better mental acuity and was more energetic! How much better would you feel mentally if it was finally easier to maintain that healthy weight you have been chasing for years?
“But how?” you ask? First and foremost, you have to make getting enough sleep a priority. Start by determining a routine bedtime and wake time that fits with your schedule, and try to stick to it as much as possible. You can even use apps on your phone now to remind you when you need to start your bedtime routine.
Not using electronic devices before bed is another way to get to sleep quicker, which will allow you to gain back some of that precious sleep time you may be losing right now by lying awake in bed. Sleeping in complete darkness by using blackout shades can also help. More to come on those and how they impact your quality of sleep in my next sleep blog.
Sleep is just one of the basic lifestyle guidelines we work to improve when working with our clients, as good health is about way more than just working out. The OPEX Franklin program is comprehensive – there are no add-ons or additional classes or services to pay for. There is one service, and it’s personalized fitness through your professional coach. With that comes monthly consultations, assessments, body composition analysis, workout program design, nutrition guidance, lifestyle guidance, on-the-floor coaching, and an outstanding community of people who might just become your best friends. CONTACT US for your free consult today!