Training Tip Tuesday – Snooze, And You Don't Lose

Sleep. We all need it, we all want it. We all don’t always get it. What is it about sleep?

It’s no secret that the human body loves to sleep. Stop what you are doing for a few moments. Sit, or lie down. Get comfortable. Shut everything off around you and just wait…wait for it. Getting sleepy? Having a hard time keeping those eyes open? Yep. That is your own mind telling itself to shut down. Time to sleep.

The problem these days is that we are so bombarded with phone calls, text messages, e-mails, stuff to do, places to be, endless driving to get there, not to mention family time, work time, exercise time and unexpected time consumers that the first thing that suffers is our sleep.

Sleep Inhibitors

Sleep Inhibitors

Sleep is the body’s time to regenerate itself. It is it’s time to heal. The brain needs sleep and shut down time so that it can be useful again the following day. Sleep allows the creative parts of the brain to strengthen and grow so that they’ll be fully developed when situations arise to use them during the day. The body needs time to regenerate any tissue damage, fight off incoming infections, to detoxify in general, and all this happens in Dreamland.

Health Complications of Insomnia

Health Complications of Insomnia

How much sleep do you need? Well, it depends. On average, the recommended amount its 7-9 hours per night for an active adult. Certainly this number can vary depending on the individual, but to maintain a physically active lifestyle, this number would represent the bare minimum. So, if you run on a consistent basis, this would be YOU!

Not to mention, sleep can actually affect your weight! People who get consistent, quality shut-eye tend to have an easier time managing their weight. Partially because of screwing with the endocrine regulation of hunger and appetite, and partially because less sleep means you’re more likely to snack more, the bottom line is, poor sleep raises your risk for obesity by 21 percent. Plus, poor sleepers tend to engage less in physical activity, and when they do they have less endurance, which means fewer calories burned. Also, inadequate sleep causes you to release less of the pleasure hormone serotonin in your brain. To compensate, you try to increase those levels with sugary foods—which doesn’t help your waistline. It’s like a catch-22. Sleep less, and your body wants to eat more. Sleep less and have less endurance to exercise during the day. Sleep more, and these conditions take care of themselves.

Effects of Sleep Deprivation

Effects of Sleep Deprivation

Of course, obesity is just the tip of the ice-berg. Sleep solves and can help regulate so many other health issues. The list is endeless!

But a good night’s sleep is easier said than done, right? Sure, there are many medications out there that can help you get the sleep you need, if you are desperate. But most of the needs for that medication arise from the general stresses I mentioned earlier in our everyday lives. And believe it or not, those stresses can also affect our diet…which in turn can affect our sleep.

It’s true. Eat crap and you’ll sleep like crap.

For most people, just cleaning up the diet will lead to a more restful sleep. Getting the correct balance of vitamins, minerals, and calories will ensure that the body will take care of itself, and let you know how much you need by allowing you to sleep through the night.

I could go on and on about this, but certainly you can Google it for yourself. (This is an especially educational article from the Huffington Post.) There is plenty of information saturating the market. The main point of this training tip is to remind you how important sleep is in your life. As you schedule your workouts or runs, so must you schedule your sleep. And be sure that you get enough so that upon waking, you are well rested and ready to tackle your day.

For me personally, shutting down the brain as early as after dinner can do the trick. This means saving this time for helping the kids with homework, doing some light housekeeping or folding laundry, browsing the internet or answering personal e-mails, reading a magazine or composing a shopping list. Save the ‘heavy thinking’ tasks for earlier in the day. I’m not a TV person, so fortunately for me, that isn’t a factor in my day to day life. But, if you are a TV person, consider taping those shows that you like to watch after 8pm and save them for another time, like the weekend, or for when you are on the treadmill.

Avoid caffeine and alcohol late night as they both can stimulate your sleep efforts. And put down those electronics an hour before you lay your head down on that pillow. Keep them out of the bedroom, as well!

Double check your diet. Vitamin B’s and magnesium and even calcium can effect your sleep. Be sure you are getting the recommended amounts. And if you can’t always eat right, supplementing with a multi-vitamin can help.

Just play it smart, check with your doctor, and always consider all alternatives before agreeing to a prescription or over the counter sleep aid. Sleep is a natural occurrence and you want it to stay that way!

Remember, sleep is just as important as your exercise routine. So schedule it.

Sweet dreams!

Disclaimer: These training tips are based on my opinion and what has worked for me. I am not a doctor, or a trainer, or a professional athlete. This blog purely represents observations I have made in my 4 years as a runner. Always consult a medical professional before beginning a running or workout program. I am not liable, either expressly or in an implied manner, nor claim any responsibility for any emotional or physical problems that may occur directly or indirectly from reading this blog.

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