You know sleep makes you feel good. But did you also know it can help you run faster and recovery better? It can even help you lose body fat.
Sleep is our secret weapon for sports performance, weight loss, a healthy immune system, and even how well you deal with food cravings. Good quality sleep can transform your running performance. But how many of us honestly get a good night’s sleep most of the time?
Sleep For Weight Loss
Sleep helps balance levels of the hormones leptin and ghrelin. Ghrelin tells your body it’s time to eat, and leptin helps your body recognise fullness. And when you haven’t had adequate sleep, your ghrelin increases and leptin decreases. The outcome? When you’re sleep deprived, you feel hungrier and have a harder time knowing when to stop eating.
Sleep And Cravings
Lack of sleep decreases activity in your brain’s frontal lobe, which governs decision-making and controlling impulses. This is bad news if you are trying to eat a healthy diet to lose weight or fuel your running performance. Tired people make poorer food choices, eat more, and are more likely to choose stodgy junk food.
Sleep And Mood
Lack of sleep leads to a spike in the stress hormone cortisol. Your body will naturally want to conserve energy after this, and so you’re likely to feel lethargic and even a little bit low. The last thing your brain will want to do is send you out for a run. Good sleep means you are more likely to feel motivated and excited by the idea of a training run!
5 Tips For Better Sleep
Create The Right Environment For Sleep
Make your bedroom as dark as possible, and that includes minimising light from electronic devices like phones, tablet computers and clocks. In fact, don’t take your phone or tablet into the bedroom at all. Not only does this mean you won’t stay up too late trawling Facebook, but if you wake in the night you can’t be tempted to pop online.
Clear Your Mind
Stress and anxiety can be a real sleep-killer. So try to clear your mind before you go to bed. Write down what’s bothering you, put together a to-do list for tomorrow, or try journalling your thoughts. Writing things down might not solve anything but it may leave your mind clearer and more relaxed, ready for sleep.
Wind Down Slowly To Bedtime
Don’t watch TV or stay online right until the moment you go to bed. The light from screens makes it much harder for our brains to get into sleep-mode, and thinking about work (or that annoying Facebook argument) won’t help you wind down. Turn off your computer, get off your phone, and start your sleep routine.
Cut Out Caffeine
Even if you don’t think you’re sensitive to caffeine, try cutting back on it. Have your last serving of caffeine 6 hours before bed at the very latest. And don’t forget, caffeine is in tea, hot chocolate, some fizzy drinks, pre-workouts and high cocoa chocolate. Not just coffee!
The Right Kind Of Exercise
Exercise can help us get a good night’s sleep, but try to run earlier in the day (with enough time to calm down and unwind before bed). Evening is a great time for yoga or your home stretching routine.