Diet? Check. Fitness plan? Check. But did you know- most people skip the most important step when committing towards their overall wellness plan? If you haven’t guessed already, we are talking about sleep. Research has long proven the importance of clocking inconsistent and undisturbed sleep for our body to perform optimally. In fact, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports more than 35% of people are sleep deprived. The cost of these poor sleep patterns seeps into our wellbeing giving way to chronic illnesses like diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular diseases, poor immune system and many such. But how exactly does good sleep have a connection with health and fitness?
Benefits of Good Sleep
While sleep alone cannot guarantee perfect health, it certainly is a contributing factor that gives our body a perfect start to the day. There are many benefits of getting a good night’s sleep that has a direct impact on overall wellness:
- Boost immune system: Consistent amount of sleep every night has shown to boost immune systems. When our body rests, it produces immune cells and proteins that help to keep infections at bay. In addition, sleep specialists at the American Academy of Sleep Medicine also claim that proper sleep can also make vaccines more effective!
- Keeps the heart healthy: Regularly depriving yourself of sleep can lead to a surge in stress hormones such as cortisol that compels the heart to work harder. On contrary, clocking in those 8 hours of undisturbed and regular sleep as recommended by sleep specialists, ensures plenty of time for the heart to rest keeping all crucial levels under control.
- Good sleep, great mood: Ask any new parent about their babies and you’ll get this answer almost instantly. The good news is this doesn’t apply just to babies but to all humans where if you sleep well, you wake up, rested and ready for the day. The science behind it is that every cell in your body gets renewed, restored and rejuvenated allowing all organs to function optimally- including your brain that sends those happy signals!
- Increase Exercise performance: Sleep affects our ability to perform exercises with the recovery period enabling restoration in energy and fitness levels. Recent studies have also proven that getting regular shut-eye helps with reaction time, hand-eye coordination and most importantly, muscle recovery.
- Great memory: If you thought your mind goes to sleep too as you tuck yourself into bed- wait to be surprised! Our mind works hard to process and consolidate memories collected over the day. This helps to ensure you remember things as you must for your daily function, every day, without having to memorise it regularly. For example, driving, eating, cycling, working out etc.
- Increase in physical pain threshold: Recent studies from the journal Sleep, undertaken in 2012, showed that participants who engaged in a full 9-hour sleep had more pain tolerance after than those who averaged 7 hours. In fact, the first group showed a 25% more threshold! If you are someone who likes to start your Health and Fitness routine first thing in the morning- you are likely to stretch those muscles more effectively!
The benefits of sleep are of course not restricted just to the above but extend to many more. This takes us to the next question- How can you incorporate good sleep in your own bed?
How to Create a Healthy Sleep Environment?
Sleep experts have long researched and understood the importance of zero disturbance when it comes to sleep. Whether it’s your mattress or the bright lights that need a change- it’s important to create the perfect sleep environment that you can rely on daily for a good sleep. Here are some tips on how to achieve it:
- Routine: Our brain responds to stimulus. The more we settle into a routine during the day, the easier it is to literally drop into a deep sleep. Maintain a regular sleep routine that includes early dinner, a warm bath or just relaxing in bed.
- Mattress: Your mattress is your biggest sleep partner. Invest in one that supports the body’s natural S-curved spine position. This allows for the sleeper to rest without any pain arising from pressure points. Some of the best mattress brands in India like Wakefit offer Orthopedic memory foam mattresses that aid particularly in providing support to the sleeper from head to toe.
- Make your bed cosy: Who can deny a comfortable bed with crisp cotton sheets and large pillows and a duvet waiting to embrace you? Make your bed cosy enough for you to associate this space with resting.
- No lights, no noise: Try turning off all electronics and unwanted bright lights well before you go to bed. Darkness tricks the body into producing hormones that aide in deep sleep.
So, whether your goals are weight loss, muscle gain or health maintenance, roping in a well-deserved 8 hours of nightcap into your fitness plan is key.