When it comes to staying healthy, working out or increasing activity is probably the first thing that comes to mind. While that may be true, your recovery time is equally, if not more important for long-term improvements in overall health.
For the sake of this article, we want to focus our attention on the one aspect of recovery that is perhaps the most largely overlooked–sleep.
It’s 3 AM and you’re having trouble sleeping…again!
And you’re not alone. In fact, the National Sleep Foundation recently did a poll that estimated 48% of people have occasional insomnia, while 22% have it almost every night!
That’s pretty significant considering the detrimental effects that a lack of sleep can have on your health. You name it, heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, and even diabetes to name a few.
A common myth is that one can “make up” by getting a single good night’s rest. However, according to a recent study at William & Mary College:
What most people don’t realize is that the body can actually store sleep deficits or reserves. This means that even if an athlete sleeps eight hours the night before a competition, if they slept poorly the few nights before, they will not be rested. Their performance will suffer due to the built up sleep debt.
In other words, establishing consistent sleep patterns every night is the key to performing your best.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, here are a few ideas to start enjoying some much needed REM (not R.E.M.)
Unplug Already! (not your Alarm Clock)
Calling this the “Digital Age” is an understatement. We’re digital junkies, addicted to our electronics. Our devices may all be going the wireless route, but we’re definitely hardwired to them.
Ever count the number of times you look at your cell phone every day? Look around. Look at everyone. What are they doing? Likely, checking their phones. We’re all offenders. That’s fine, but if you want to sleep better, consider “unplugging” a few hours before bed and give your brain a mini staycation.
Put the coffee down!
Speaking of addictions, let’s talk caffeine. Yay! From coffee to soda to cold medicines. It’s in everything so if you’re not sleeping, look at what you’re putting in your body. If you have to have the Starbucks Trenta, consider having it before 5PM to allow enough time for the “full effect” to wear off.
In fact in another recent study, it stated:
Caffeine use has been linked with insufficient sleep duration. Its use as a stimulant during the day may disrupt sleep at night and consequently affects alertness the following day.
Nothing compliments a night on the couch watching TV quite like a bowl of ice cream, or chips, or whatever. You know what we’re talking about. It might seem like a great idea at the time, but kicking your metabolism into full gear right before bed is a sure way to pull an overnighter. Like caffeine, try eating dinner earlier in the evening and then put a lock on the pantry (and lose the key).