Most people know how important sleep is within the health community, but so many people still sacrifice it for their daily activities, or put it on the back burner with regards to other physical activities they perceive to be more important towards achieving optimal health (exercise specifically). With so many studies done and research performed, it has been determined that QUALITY sleep is actually just as important (if not more) than exercise and physical activity in creating a healthier life with optimal physique.
Just think about it. When we sleep, our bodies repair themselves and grow. Cells are repaired. Toxins are cleansed. Brain function can improve and memories are being processed. Hormones are being regulated. The list goes on and on.
Sleep is so vital in taking the punishment of the daily grind and recharging for another go round the next day. It is not wise to skimp out on sleep. Sleep is good for you. Get a lot of it. Make it a priority. Stop making excuses about kids and jobs. Go to bed earlier. Nap during the day. End of story.
Here are some random notes regarding the latest research on sleep. The book Sleep Smarter: 21 Essential Strategies to Sleep Your Way to A Better Body, Better Health, and Bigger Success by Shawn Stevenson also provides great information about sleep and how to improve it.
- Quality sleep cycles can be just as beneficial and a continuous stretch of sleep (5 90 minute chunks vs 7 straight hours)
- Quality bed/mattress and sheets are vital (spend the money! You spend ⅓ of your day in them!)
- Go to bed earlier, wake up earlier
- Pay attention to what you are eating before bed, it may be throwing your great night of rest off (I find eating my last meal 2 hours before sleep to be very beneficial)
- There are many sleep apps/gadgets that can help if you need
- Meditation before sleep really helps calm the brain down and prepare the body
- Power naps/mid day naps are very beneficial as well – anywhere from 10-40 min and the best time is 7-8hrs after you naturally wake up
Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every night if possible. When you get your body in rhythm you will find the alarm clock to be a thing of the past as you will naturally wake up at the time you have programmed your body to. Once you get good at the whole sleep thing, you may even be able to tell yourself to wake up slightly early if you have to for whatever reason and you will. Many people dominating their sleep can wake themselves up early just by thinking about it!
Quality sleep is extremely important so make it a priority instead of making excuses. It goes hand in hand with improving overall health. If you are doing all of the right things with respect to mental and spiritual strengthening, diet and fitness, but you are getting 4-5 hours of sleep a night, you will still feel crappy and your overall health probably may not improve much.
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