Sleep: We all want more of it. But did you know that getting more shut-eye can also help you on your health and fitness journey? Here's how.
It's easy to sacrifice some shut-eye when you're juggling work, life and your fitness journey, but let's get one thing straight: You need your sleep. A solid block of slumber every night is more important than you think; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) consider insufficient sleep a public health problem.
We live in a world with a hectic pace in which, thanks to multiple high-tech gadgets, you're constantly plugged in and accessible, and multitasking is the norm. Are you one of the millions of people who combat fatigue every day by throwing back some seriously high-octane caffeinated beverages to keep powering through? There's a healthier solution: Improve your sleep hygiene and lay the groundwork for a better, longer night's sleep.
Your sleep habits affect your daily routine. Sleep deprivation causes you to have trouble focusing and affects your moods during the day. Next time you experience a co-worker's mood swing, it's a safe bet that sleep — or lack thereof — is the culprit.
"Lack of sleep is a unique stress that induces a chronic stress response in the body," says Shawn Talbott, nutritional biochemist, exercise physiologist and author of The Secret of Vigor: How to Overcome Burnout, Restore Metabolic Balance and Reclaim Your Natural Energy.
Then there's the negative impact it has on your health — and eating habits. A 2018 British study found that even an hour or so more a night can help you eat fewer sugary foods and carbohydrates, the macronutrients a tired brain and body crave when you need energy.
What Lack of Sleep Can Do to Your Health
Research has linked a lack of sleep to a bunch of physiological effects that might sabotage your health. A lack of sleep can:
- Increase fat storage
- Raise stress hormone levels
- Cause spikes in hunger and unhealthy cravings
Plus, lack of sleep actually causes a decrease in the production of human growth hormone, which fights aging, builds muscles, aids fat loss and boosts immunity. In short, sleep is vital.
5 Ways to Wind Down and Get Some Shut Eye
- Chill out. A cooler room temperature aids sleep, so figure out your ideal temp.
- Go dark. Light can interfere and impair sleep, so make your room as dark as you can.
- Quiet down. You'll fall asleep much easier when your room is as quiet as possible.
- Get on schedule. Create a sleep schedule to allow your body to establish a pattern.
- Unplug before bed. Don't bring your cell phone, tablet or computer to bed; let your mind unwind.
Read Up On How to Catch Some ZZZs
OK, so we've convinced you that you need more sleep. But the $1 million question is: How do you do that? Here are some helpful tips to help you fall asleep and stay asleep so that you wake up refreshed and ready to face the day.
- 10 Proven Tips for a Good Night's Sleep
- The Winning Sleep Habits of 7 Pro Athletes
- 12 Foods That Help You Fall Asleep
- Habits That Are Ruining Your Sleep (and How to Fix Them)
How to Join the Get Strong in 2019 Challenge
1. Sign Up for Daily Emails
There are two main places this challenge is taking place online — your inbox and our Facebook group (more on that in a second). So first, make sure you've entered your email to sign up for the Get Strong in 2019 Challenge. (Yep, even if you're already signed up for our regular daily newsletter.)
Every day, we'll be sending you your daily workout and a healthy recipe to try, along with fun extras like workout playlists, motivational quotes, self-care tips and other fitness and nutrition information to make 2019 your best (and healthiest) year ever!
2. Print Out Your Calendars
Isn't it so satisfying to check things off of your to-do list? Each day during the Get Strong in 2019 Challenge, you're accountable for two main things: working out and eating healthy.
To help keep you on track for the entire month, we created two calendars — one with each day's workouts listed and another with each week's nutrition goal and healthy recipes. Print them out and check off each workout and day of healthy eating as you complete it.
3. Join Our Challenge Facebook Group
For daily support, motivation and camaraderie with LIVESTRONG.COM team members, join our Facebook Group for the Get Strong in 2019 Challenge. We'll share recipes, tips, motivations, pictures and more! Plus, we'll answer all your questions.
4. Share Your Journey on Social Media
Are you on Instagram or Twitter? So are we! And we'd love to see photos and updates of your progress. When you post to social media, be sure to use the hashtag #GetStrongChallenge. That way, you can also connect with other Get Strong challengers!