It’s time we talk about the elephant in the room…
We all want to look and feel better. You all clearly prioritize your health and wellness as you made the decision to join our CrossFit gym and put yourself through challenging workouts every day. You may have even started to change up your eating and given Paleo or Whole30 a try.
But, if you are not sleeping enough each night (total time varies by age and activity level) you are literally wasting your time. Sleep is so fundamental to ensuring your health that if you had the option to only get 5.5 hours of sleep and workout or get a full 8 hours of sleep and no workout, you should choose the latter. It’s that important.
Now, I know there are a thousand reasons why you don’t get to bed on time consistently. Between new series on Netflix, friends begging you to join them at the bar or just keeping up with work emails I understand your time and attention is spread thin.
But, when you make the decision to not prioritize your sleep, you increase your risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, heart failure, weight gain, impaired cognition and ultimately premature death.
Oh moly! That list reads worse than the side effects for prescription drugs! So, how much sleep should you be getting each night? Take a look at the chart below.
Sleep helps you lose weight by regulating your hormones.
Proper sleep lowers your cortisol levels – the stress hormone associated with fat gain – and balances ghrelin (what makes you feel hungry) and leptin (what makes you feel full). A lack of sleep makes your ghrelin increase and your leptin decrease, making you feel hungrier than when you're well-rested.
One night of missed sleep causes insulin resistance and puts you at risk for diabetes.
Insulin resistance is a precursor to diabetes. One night of poor sleep and the body fails to efficiently use glucose for energy, which results in high blood sugar.
Sleep makes your brain work right and controls your emotions.
It helps turn the events that happened throughout the day into memories, helps remember information, make decisions, pay attention, and be creative. Proper sleep means you’ll also be less stressed throughout the day. Studies show that a lack of sleep leads to depression, sadness and decreased motivation.
Sleep maintains your sex drive.
For men, a lack of sleep lowers testosterone levels and drains sex drive… don’t do that to your partner.
Sleep repairs your body.
It heals your cells and tissues, blood vessels and heart. If you care about building muscle, your highest amounts of GH (Growth Hormone) are secreted during deep sleep.
Make Sleep a Priority
It seems daunting at first, but you’ll feel better in the long run. Here are some tips to help you sleep better at night.
1. Put the electronics away! Screens stimulate the brain. When it’s time for sleep, it’s important to unwind and let your brain relax, so no TV, laptops or phones 30 minutes before bed.
2. Pick a time and stick to it. If you know you need to be up at 6am, be in bed and ready for sleep at 10pm. Picking a set time makes for a tangible, reachable goal that will make you feel accomplished when you achieve it.
3. Avoid caffeine after noon (or all together). It’s fine in the morning, as long as you're not dependent on it, but past 12:00 it can linger in your body and affect your sleep at night.
4. Let go of your thoughts. This is seemingly impossible sometimes, but practicing to free your mind makes you sleep peacefully.