The Importance Of Sleep

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Dreaming about being interesting

I was always someone who would shun the importance of sleep. I never had a problem nodding off but would always get up early in the morning to get on with the day; waking up restless and wanting to jump on my computer has been something that has bothered me for years now and held me back from getting a solid 7-9 hours of sleep a night. At first this was fine but after years of waking up early things finally caught up with me and I started getting syptoms of an Exhausted Mind:

  • ADHD like thinking (unable to focus on one thing)
  • Grumpiness, Irritability
  • Low Energy and Dull Moods
  • Anxiety

These were just a few of the things I would experience and this was in spite of an excellent diet and low stress environment I was living in. Things had to change and luckily they did when earlier this summer I read a great post from Robb Wolf, simply saying Sleep or you Might Loose Your Marbles which felt like what was happening to me……

I immediately realized I could no longer afford to be sleeping 5-6 hours and waking up in the middle of the night having trouble getting back to sleep. After Reading Lights Out the dangers of low sleep really hit some and I decided to make a few changes to my room at night:

- All Electronics Switched off completely and made sure there were no small lights on anywhere (the kind that power electronics)

- Added an extra layer to my blind to block out light

- Started wearing Ear Plugs or sleeping with a fan on (white noise)

- Dimmed all lights for an hour before bed and put LCD monitor on lowest brightness

- Waited until I’m Yawning/Sleepy before hitting the sack

- If I got up and felt restless I get up and have a walk around/glass of water and meditate until asleep again

This made a world of difference I seem to have broken my minds habit of wanting to awaken early in the morning and will regularly sleep from 10PM until 6-7AM averaging 8-10 hours of sleep a night. When I manage to clock 3-4 days of consistent sleep like this changed my outlook on life. If you have a problem waking up unable to get back to sleep it may simply be a case of retraining your mind that there is nothing important to do in the middle of the night, It may take a few nights of bullying yourself back to sleep but you will eventually break the habit…..

“If you can’t sleep, then get up and do something instead of lying there worrying. It’s the worry that gets you, not the lack of sleep.”
~Dale Carnegie

As soon as I got consistent good sleep I noticed:

- Improved Body Composition (Fat Loss and Strength Gain)

- Stable Moods

- Happier Outlook on Life

- High Energy

- Improved Digestion

If you have trouble getting to bed I find giving yourself a quick 5-10 minute neck and shoulder massage can make a huge difference to relaxation and allow you to nod off in no time. As well as this practicing your breathing is a great way to calm the mind and body before bed, as is reading a book in low light…..

Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together. ~ Thomas Dekker

Don’t Skimp on Sleep

Don’t be someone who boasts about getting by on 5-7 hours of sleep and feeling fine (like I used to), its simply not the truth and it will catch up with you eventually, only once you start getting your 7-9 hours of restful sleep daily will you realize what your missing. Also check out Alex Shalman’s Excellent Sleep Guide….

Comments

  1. Coed Fitness Tips says

    I used to do the same thing about not sleeping to get on the computer, I started turning the computer off at night that way it’s not so easy for me to get on it. Now I have to wait a couple of minutes for it to load and if i’m a little tired I don’t bother. This definitly has made a I sleep an extra hour to and hour and a half due to changing one little thing.

  2. Andrew R says

    I had a really big problem falling asleep for a long time. I found that the less time I spent on my bed, the easier it was for me to fall asleep. That is, don’t do anything on your bed other than sleeping. It really helps.

    Thanks for the post!

    All the Best,

    Andrew R

  3. Tom Parker - Free Fitness Tips says

    Good post. There’s a lot of points I really should follow here but it’s so hard balancing a full night’s sleep with working, training, cooking and blogging :-(. I usually catch up on the weekends but on weekdays I do struggle to get more than 7 hours a night.

  4. Kat Eden says

    Great post. This is such a relevant topic for practically everyone I know! After my marriage ended I started struggling with sleep for the first time in my life. It got to the point where 4 hours was a GOOD night. The main thing I learnt from this was that having enough sleep affects every aspect of your life. I tell my clients now that not having enough sleep is enough to single-handedly ruin your health and exercise goals. Lack of sleep can and will make you fat, unhappy and unhealthy!
    Now if only I could be strict enough to practicse what I preach every night instead of staying up blogging!

    Kat
    PS – ‘Lights Out’ is an amazing book, I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the effects of sleep deprivation.
    For those interested, I’ve also written an article outlining how a lack of sleep affects your health and your weight:

    http://www.bodyincredible.com/how-a-lack-of-sleep-affects-your-health-and-your-weight/

  5. Chris says

    @ Kat: Lights out is indeed an amazing book. It was actually reading that book that made me realize what a dire situation I was putting myself in with a lack of sleep, its quite scary actually as everything else can be dialed in (diet, training etc) but if your sleep is not a solid 8-10 hours most nights its all going to waste. Thanks for the links on your blog and the kind words :)
    @ Tom: If your managing 7 hours of good sleep a night when working thats fine, but make sure you manage a few 9-10 hour nights a week if you can (probably on weekends) also don’t be shy of taking a 20 minute power nap when you can they really do make a difference…..

  6. Coop says

    Smart post Chris.
    Many people think that they are “getting ahead” by sleeping less.

    I too could get away with it when I was younger, but not these days as I am in my 40′s.

    One of the best things I did was to purchase a sleep mask. It’s great for naps during the day, plus at night it blacks out everything.

    Best,
    Coop

  7. JG says

    4.5 Hours per Night.
    Love to get more, but just not possible right now.
    These helicopters won’t fly themselves…

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Click here to read about Zen to Fitness’ Chris and his experience of when he started to get high quality sleep at night. He mentions improved body composition, higher energy levels, and improved digestion. For those who are having trouble sleeping, Mark has some great tips to help you wind down and start getting better sleep right away. [...]

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