Part 1 of this mini-series focused on bringing nutrition into the spotlight of why we may not be meeting our aesthetic goals with just training. Part 1 left out a crucial component: if we spend an hour at the gym, the other 23 hours aren’t just about eating. They’re also about sleep.
Sleeping is hands down the most underrated aspect of our health and wellness. When we don’t get enough sleep we don’t function well, we retain excess body fat and inflammation, and we are generally less pleasant to be around. There is no amount of exercise, food, supplementation, or medication that will outperform good quality sleep.
So what does good sleep look like?
It looks like an average of 8 hours (that may mean 7 for some or 9-10 for others) of uninterrupted, deep and restful sleep. I’m talking about actually sleeping for that amount of time (not just being in bed) and waking up with more energy than we went to bed with.
If you wake up tired, guess what? You didn’t get a good night’s sleep. The metric is really that simple. Yes we have a bunch of fancy, wearable tech that can tell you all about your REM sleep and deep sleep and how many interruptions you had throughout the night. Those provide nice data that is useful if, and only if, you use it to change your behavior.
Ultimately, how you feel in the morning is the only metric that matters. It also means we can start paying attention to sleep right now! We can start identifying some red flags in our sleep hygiene and work to improve them!
Are you staring at the ceiling instead of falling right asleep? Red flag.
Do you need a drink or a pill to fall asleep, but still wake up groggy? Red flag.
Are you hitting the snooze button over and over every morning? Red flag.
Does the morning cup of coffee turn into 2, 3, or 4+? Red flag.
Take this week to start paying attention, start noticing your red flags. Maybe even start a simple log and write down the time you went to bed/woke up and how you felt in the morning. This awareness will help identify where you have the most to gain in improving your sleep!