If you asked an average person on the street which diet tip most likely would result in weight loss, improved mood, better eating habits, and faster results in the gym, you probably wouldn’t expect them to say getting enough sleep, would you?
But that is the RIGHT answer! Crazy, right?
When I’m coaching and teaching people how to improve their habits to develop a fitter lifestyle, I don’t just talk about eating well and working out, I coach them on the importance of getting enough sleep and managing their stress. Taking care of your stress in a healthy way and getting enough shut-eye are surefire ways to succeed in the other areas of life, such as working out at an intensity high enough to create results, and choosing foods that will fuel the body well.
We all want to know how to eat well and workout correctly to get results, and while those are great things, we are missing important pieces to the wellness puzzle when we forget about sleep. Quite honestly, our refusal to listen to and act upon the admonition to go to bed early and get enough sleep is detrimental to our health.
Sleep is vital to our health because it is the body’s restorative time. Sleep is when our body chemistry goes into ‘recover and restore’ mode, when hormones regulating growth and appetite are released, and when muscle repair occurs. Sleep is the only time in our 24 hours where we truly rest! All day long we are busy getting things done and taking names, but if we do not give our bodies time to rest and restore, all our busyness will be for naught when we can’t remember anything and when our appetites are out of control.
So how much sleep do we need? It is true that most people do not get enough sleep; the average adult should be clocking 7-9 hours per night of sleep, and if you asked any of your friends (or yourself!), most of them are definitely getting well below that recommendation.
I take this advice seriously and have seen the huge benefits from getting enough sleep! When I sleep 8-9 hours per night, I eat better, I can workout harder, I’m more alert and patient with my kids, and I feel less stressed. Basically I am a happier human being!
Because I know how important sleep is, I do make it a priority. My husband and I have a quality mattress, I power down my phone well before climbing into bed, and we keep our room dark and cool. All of these things create an optimal environment for us to sleep well and get the rest our bodies need. And I sure do love my sleep.
Have I convinced you yet? I bet you’re climbing into bed now…..sweet dreams! :)
-Annette Perkins (B.S., M.S.)