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Guest Post: Why Improving Your Sleep is One of the Healthiest Things You Can Do

Posted on by Kathryn O'Hara


We invited personal trainer Steve Hoyles of Hoyles Fitness to share his views on the importance of sleep.

Sleep is  fundamental to your quality of life. In this blog  I want to share with you why it’s so important, what happens during your sleep, how to improve it  I’ll hopefully leave you with 9 instantly actionable tips that can help you sleep better tonight.

As a personal trainer, I’m in the business of human performance. It’s my job to help people look, feel and perform better. To do this, I address three main areas:

  1. Exercise
  2. Nutrition
  3. Recovery

Most people understand the first two – they can get their heads around the fact that if you want to improve your health, eating better and exercising more is a good place to start. 

The third one, most people don’t see in the same light, which is a shame because it is every bit as important as the other two.

In fact, in professional sport, sleep and recovery are now monitored alongside diet and training because the link between quality sleep and improved health and performance has been scientifically proven. 

Why is sleep so important to recovery?

Sleep is our main recovery strategy. It’s our built-in repair mode.

With so much research proving just how important sleep is, specialists now say a good nights’ sleep is no longer merely a good idea, it’s a necessity.

With our round-the-clock jobs, email at home, constantly-reachable-via-mobile lives, a break from the relentlessness of modern life is increasingly valuable.

In my work with clients I see it all of the time – stressed executives working 14+ hour days, surviving on five hours sleep per night and wondering why they are constantly tired and feel terrible. It doesn’t take a genius to spot the problem.

As our work/life balance erode,  it makes good sleep more important than ever. We can’t work long hours and not give ourselves time to rest. In the end, something has to be put right.

The solution is simple. More top quality sleep.

What happens when we sleep?

The complete process of sleep is far too complex to describe in a blog post, but here’s an outline of the physiological process that occur during our sleep…

  • Wounds are healed
  • Infections are fought
  • Neural pathways are reset – helps with memory and learning
  • Hormone levels are regulated
  • Stress is reduced
  • Muscle growth occurs
  • Bones are remodelled

Those of you with children will have seen these processes in action without actually realising it! 

I’m a father of two boys and anyone with children will know one thing about them – they sleep a lot. Babies and toddlers need over 12 hours sleep daily. Most children will nap daily until they are 3-5 years old. Even then they still need 9-10 hours sleep.

Built-in growth and repair mode.  

They are growing all of the time. Their bodies are changing, they are learning new things – all of these physiological and neural changes occur during sleep. It’s exactly the same with teenagers, which is why those of you with teenage children might not see them before lunch on a weekend!

In the medical world, sleep is used clinically in the form of induced coma. The patient is kept in a medically induced coma to help speed the recovery.

As I said earlier – sleep is our built-in repair mode. 

Hopefully I’ve laboured the point long enough for you to understand that sleep is absolutely vital to your health and wellbeing, so it’s worthwhile investing in. 

How do you improve sleep?

Ask anyone over thirty how they are and you’ll probably get the stock response ‘I’m tired’.  So many of us are chronically tired because we don’t sleep properly and as a result accumulate a sleep debt that is rarely repaid.

We think of sleep as something that just happens to us, but the reality is we can control the quality of our sleep far more than we realise. With a few simple steps we can put together a sleep routine that consistently results in better sleep.

Better sleep means a healthier you. Better sleep means a happier, less stressed and generally better performing you. 

Steve’s 9 Tips to improve your sleep 

  1. Don’t look at your phone in bed. The bright screen affects your ability to sleep deeply. Trust me – there’s nothing that interesting on Facebook.
  2. Dim the lights an hour before bedtime. It’ll help your body stimulate the release of sleep-inducing chemicals. 
  3. Get to bed at a reasonable hour. Take advantage of technology and record programmes that are on late – you don’t need to stay up to watch late shows any more. 
  4. Keep your drinking to a minimum. Contrary to popular belief, alcohol doesn’t help you sleep, it actually reduces sleep quality.
  5. Avoid caffeine or stimulants for 3 hours before bed.
  6. If you struggle to nod off, listen to a sleep hypnosis CD or podcast in the background.
  7. Try a Zinc and Magnesium (ZMA) supplement. It’s known to help aid deep and restful sleep.
  8. Where possible, stick to a consistent bed and wake up time.
  9. Invest in a better mattress. If you’re not comfortable, you’re not going to sleep well. A good mattress is money well spent.

These tips are so simple to implement that followed through, you’ll be improving your sleep in a matter of days. Be consistent, be patient and enjoy the benefits of just a little effort around your sleep habits. 

Done correctly, you’ll feel the benefits of the improved sleep almost immediately and will settle for consistently bad sleep ever again!

Happy sleeping!

Steve

www.hoylesfitness.com

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Good Sleep Guide

A Guide to a better night's sleep.

We are pleased to launch our very first E-book filled with useful tips to help you slip in to a peaceful slumber.


We all know the importance of a good sleep, but did you know it could be achieved through small ‘tweaks’ to our diet and lifestyle? Download the Good Sleep Guide and learn how to improve your health and well being to get that good night’s sleep you deserve.


DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE E-BOOK NOW!

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