It’s World Sleep Day. And no, that doesn’t mean you can spend today’s daylight hours buried under your duvet. Well, you can. Who are we to judge? But that’s not quite the idea. This is an opportunity to raise awareness on the health benefits of sleep. Of which there are many. And we’re here to share some of the top ones with you. So if you’re wide awake when you should be sound asleep, read on.
How important is sleep?
Very. If you’re exercising hard, with a strict routine to reach specific goals, it’s even more essential. Sleep is when your body recovers. So if you’re putting it through its physical paces during the day, you need to allow plenty of time for rest at night.
How much sleep do we need?
The magic number is often referred to as eight hours a night. But in reality, this would be a luxury for many of us. Seven to nine hours is ideal. Just be aware that if you’re exercising intensely, and regularly get less than seven hours a night, this could affect your performance, increase the risk of injury or lead to fatigue. You’ll then be forced to take a complete break from working out. No one wants that.
Why do we sometimes struggle to sleep?
Our habits have dramatically changed through evolution. Every other species follows the natural rhythms of each day through the seasons. As humans, and with advances in technology, we make our own rules. We go against the natural rhythms with artificial light. And screens.
Our bodies naturally produce the hormone melatonin, which regulates our sleep. Levels increase with sunset as a signal it’s time for bed. The blue light produced by screens can interfere with this signal, so despite being tired, your body thinks you should be awake. Too much stress, caffeine, alcohol and even training can also tip the balance. Now, let’s get to the good bit. The benefits.
Reasons to sleep soundly
Promotes muscle repair and tissue growth
You’re training hard. And the most important thing to remember is that your body needs to recover. If you want to reach your goals, quality sleep is vital. Most of your muscle repair and tissue growth take place while you’re tucked up. After all that weight training, it’s important to allow your body to heal and avoid injury. Keep up with your nutrition goals, and combined, you’re better equipped to hit the gym again.
Supports weight control
You know how you feel after a restless night. You’re more likely to reach for comfort foods. This can be a common sleep-deprived decision. But unhealthy choices will eventually deplete you of the little energy you had.
Lack of sleep can unnecessarily fire off cortisol, the stress hormone. This can lead to cravings for sugar and/or fat. Your stop button may also be a little harder to push. Leptin, the hormone that lets your body know when it’s time to stop eating, isn’t quite so efficient in sending the message to the brain.
Recharges your brain
As you know, reaching your goals in training isn’t just about physical strength. You need a strong mind to push your body to the next level. When you sleep, your body is working hard to prepare you for what’s ahead. Unlike your phone, your brain recognises when the battery is running low and cleverly recharges itself. Toxins that you’ve collected during the day, and can cloud your thinking, are removed.
Can boost your immune system
It’s a no-brainer that a strong immune system is essential for smashing your goals in the gym. Studies show that you’re more susceptible to picking up coughs and colds when you’re short of sleep. Your exhausted body is likely to take longer to fight it off too. And let’s face it, the quicker you get back to the gym the better. Right?
Helps you feel happier
We don’t need research to tell us how much better everything feels after a good night’s sleep. Your mood is likely to be better, you face challenges more easily, you cope with the working day more efficiently and most importantly, you work out better in the gym. So it’s time to set your bedtime routine.
Need some sleep support?
We have a great range of supplements if you need a helping hand. ZMA® Capsules (contain sleep-promoting ingredients zinc and magnesium), Bedtime Protein Shake (contains the amino acid tryptophan), as well as OptiZinc® Tablets and Complete Zen (the clues are in the names of these two).
Your bedtime routine is essential. Aim to go to bed around the same time every night, if you can. You know the drill. Put your phone away, and spend some time relaxing before your head hits the pillow. A hot bath, reading a book or whatever works for you. Just slow things right down.
We believe in sharing, and we’d love to know what you’re doing for World Sleep Day, so don’t forget to tag us in your posts. Check out @bulk for recipes, ambassador workouts and tips. Join the conversation and be part of our community by tagging #TeamBulk.