There are 3 major factors that play a massive role in our overall wellbeing. They are all interlinked and connect to each other. Imagine it like an electricity circuit. If a part is compromised or broken the whole circuit shuts down. I want you to think of this when you look at what I call the ‘Wellbeing Triangle’. Three destinations: Diet, Exercise and Sleep, which if all reached help us not only physically but also our mental health. I would argue that sleep is almost more important than the other two. Lack of sleep or a poor sleeping pattern can lead to our diet and exercises choices tumbling down. In turn a poor diet or leading a sedentary life can mean a bad nights sleep, it works in roundabouts. Can you see how easy it is to fall into a downward spiral?
I want to bring forward several facts about sleep that are not regularly heard of, but just as important as the classics.
1.Energy and athleticism.
Firstly being a personal trainer means that my performance when training myself or clients has to be on form. Theres no time for being drowsy or lethargic. I have found that sleep can dramatically enhance my athletic performance as well as my energy and enthusiasm with clients. Heres proof that the extra hour really does make a difference. My advice is to start writing a sleep diary. How many hours you had, how well you slept and how energetic you felt the next day. Let me tell you no such thing as too much sleep! My body can reach new personal bests when I’ve had a great nights sleep.
When we sleep our brain goes through a process which allows us to ‘practice’ our memories, meaning they are further implanted into our brains, turning them into long term memories. This can also be useful in day to day life, remembering what was on that shopping list, that new yoga move, or to reply to an important text. Memory generally makes our life easier!
3. Weight loss/ maintenance.
A lot of you will think this is complete bullshit and firmly believe that weight is controlled by diet and exercise. Well yes physically it is, but our nervous system is what controls those physical actions. Our brain is incredibly powerful and can overpower any control we think we may have. When we sleep a peptide called ‘ghrelin’ is flooded through our body which then controls our appetite and urge to binge. The more and better you sleep the more of this magic hormone develops in our bodies. This means we make healthier choices easier and we eat just the right amount, just because our body and brain has had enough sleep. Now thats a no brainer!
4. Better skin and better bodies.
Sleep is the BEST way to reduce inflammation, redness and dull skin. There are so many products and procedures claiming to give us the perfect skin all over but really if your not getting enough sleep your wasting your time. This also effects our bodies such as muscles and joints. Tight hamstrings after a long run, pulled a shoulder joint whilst lifting weights or skipped your stretch routine? All these are cured during the night when our bodies regenerate and recuperate. If you want your body in tip top condition for 2016 you should analyse your sleep first and foremost.
I know sleep for some is a hard task. Stress can completely screw up our sleeping pattern, its what I call ‘Racing brain’, something we must learn to shut off. Harder said than done. First things first, make your room a sanctuary, somewhere that feels warm, comfortable and relaxing. Light some candles, make your bed with loads of comfy pillows and make sure the temperature is warm. You need to make it completely serene so you switch off as soon as you enter the room. Secondly do not look at ANY technology half an our before going to sleep. Checking your emails that one last time can be the difference between a good or bad nights sleep. Thirdly use apps like ‘Headspace’ if you find it difficult to switch off and fall asleep. This app is my personal favourite, it teaches you to concentrate on your breath, meaning you fall into that deep relaxed state, drifting calmly off to sleep.
I hope this has inspired some of you to really assess your sleeping pattern and make it a priority of the new year to sleep well. You will notice the difference almost immediately! Heres to an energetic and positive year!