Not sleeping enough, which is said to be less than seven hours of sleep per night can reduce the benefits of fitness and a healthy diet. This is according to research published in Annals of Internal Medicine.
The better we recover, the more frequently and intensely we can train, feel more alert and do more day today tasks. During rest and recovery is actually the phase that improves your fitness. Only while we rest can our body adapt to compensate for the stress we’ve put on it, In other words, recover*.
For anyone reading this that are shift workers, parents or people that travel to different time zones this can be an impossible task. So rather than focus on the impossible, let’s look at how sleep quality and recovery can be improved with small changes.
Given how sedentary we are as a society, staying active on your rest day isn’t a bad thing. But please, don’t do it to burn calories do it for your body and mind to recover.
Some ideas for recovery and improving sleep.
- Keep a regular schedule. Our bodies like regularity. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same times. With a regular schedule, your body will know when to release calming hormones before bed, and stimulating hormones to wake up.
- Do a brain dump. Take a few minutes to write out a list of whatever is bugging you. Whatever is in your brain, get it out and on to paper
- Turn off electronics. Digital devices stimulate our brain. Unplug from all screens at least 30 minutes before bed. This includes television, computers, and smartphones. The screens release a blue light that prevents our brain from preparing for sleep
- Do a restorative yoga class.
- Take a bath or shower. A warm bath with epsom salts or even a cool shower (depending on personal preference) can promote restful sleep
- Have a stress free clutter free room.
- Set limits on screen time: Yes, this means not constantly checking emails, texting, and reviewing social media
- Get some fresh air during the day. Either a mindful walk taking everything in or put on your favourite podcast
- Meditate. Mindful apps such as ‘calm’ and ‘headspace’ are great tools to use pre sleep
- Mint tea & a book. My personal favourite
Sources: *Precision Nutrition https://www.precisionnutrition.com