So I think we can agree, we could all use a little more sleep. I know I need it. Recovery is big, nay, HUGELY important in our journey to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Day in and day out we are pushing our bodies to get more out of our days, wake up early, get to the gym, work late, sometimes going without food (but we will talk about that another time).
Sleep isn’t just something we do…..but something our bodies desperately need!
There are 4 stages of sleep, three of these stages are identified as Non-REM sleep and REM sleep. Think of Stage 1 as the point in the night where you’re are fighting to stay awake, but your eyes just won’t stay open. Stage 2 of Non-REM sleep is the first actual stage of sleep.
Stage 3 of Non-REM sleep is known as deep sleep or slow wave sleep, this is where all the magic happens. Lastly, REM sleep is the stage of rapid eye movement and this is where most dreaming occurs.
So here are some great things that happen while we are sleeping:
1) Growth Hormone is released
While you are in Stage 3 of sleeping, as much as 75% of growth hormone is released and plays many functions in the body. Since you are fasting while sleeping, growth hormone tells your body to release fat to give your body energy. It is also playing a master role in muscle recovery/repair as well as increased collagen growth.Yes this means use those facial creams before bed for the most benefit. ;-)
2) Your Brain Cleans House
During sleep your brain is taking its time to clean up toxins that would otherwise be harmful if you let them pile up..aka not getting enough sleep. Your brain is also taking the moments of your day and solidifying them into memories. This happens in Stage 2, where you spend most of your night.
While you’re sleeping your liver changes from a detoxify mode to a building mode. There is also less adrenaline coursing through your veins, which is going to relax you even further, taking you away from the high stress of wakefulness (i.e. the crazy real world).
4) Hunger Hormones are Regulated
Ever notice yourself reaching for the high calorie breakfast items after a short night of sleep? Researchers believe that getting a good night of sleep is essential to regulating these hormones to keep you sharp on healthier choices. Not to mention studies show those who sleep less than 6-8 hours per night tend to gain more weight than those who get enough.
5) Blood Pressure and Heart Rate Drop
When you’re sleeping you’re allowing your body to enter a stage where it doesn’t have to work as hard. Sounds good right? Yea, it is! You are allowing your heart to relax and take a break which may be beneficial to reducing your risk of heart disease.
So we cycle through these stages throughout the night get all these great benefits, but if we continue to toss and turn throughout the night we aren’t getting the full benefits of sleep. So how do you actually go about getting a better night sleep?
Here are 3 Ways to Start Getting Better Sleep
1) Get on a sleep schedule
Your goals should be to get between 7-8 hours of sleep every night. Make sleep a part of your schedule when planning your day. Turn off all technology 30-60 minutes prior to sleep and stay on schedule!
2) Create your ideal sleep room
Keeping a room cool, dark and quiet will help you rest better throughout the night. If that means purchasing new drapes or fans to accomplish this goal then so be it.
3) Create a solid workout routine
This can mean getting into the gym (wink, wink G+O) every day or even just getting outside everyday. Do some sort of physical activity during your day to promote better sleep.
So here’s your challenge: Choose one of the three ways to get better sleep from above and add it to your routine. Start small! Choose one or two days where you can schedule your sleep. Or slowly add things to your room to make a more ideal for sleep. Or maybe your workout routine is sporadic and you can make it more consistent.
Whichever you choose, remember consistency is key to success, so start small and get good at the small things to make the big things happen!