Have you ever met those people who get more done on 4 or 5 hours of sleep a night than you do on 8? By the time they arrive at the office they’ve already run 6 miles, selected the tile for the kitchen remodel, read the Journal and taken their turn at kid drop off. Never mind the sweating, shakes, or sheer panic on full display if they haven’t had their 3rd cup of coffee by 9am. When you ask these people how they’re feeling, everything is “fine, just fine, I thrive on feeling like #$@%. Bring it on!”
I, my friends, am not and have never been this person. Perhaps it was the indoctrination by my biologist father when I was a kid that I’d be better at my sport if I went to bed early and got enough sleep every night. As I’ve wrestled with the sleep challenges that came as a result of the injuries to my head and nervous system during the last few years, there is one wellness element I work hard to optimize: my sleep environment.
Now that it’s that time of year again and we’ve set our clocks back, I’m working to adjust my sleep schedule to match. The fact is, a disruption of even an hour to our regular sleep schedules can harm the quality of our sleep.
Bodily Functions Impacted by Sleep:
- Recovery and Repair: During deep sleep, your body undergoes essential repairs and maintenance. Tissues are repaired, muscles are built, and the immune system is strengthened. This is important for recovery after physical activity and maintaining overall health.
- Weight Management: Poor sleep can disrupt hormones that regulate appetite, leading to overeating and weight gain. Getting enough sleep can help regulate these hormones and support healthy weight management.
- Cardiovascular Health: Chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and other cardiovascular issues. Adequate sleep helps keep the cardiovascular system in good shape.
- Exercise Performance: (Dad was right!). Athletes often prioritize sleep as a key component of their training regimen. Good sleep can enhance physical performance, increase endurance, and improve coordination.
- Muscle Recovery: Sleep is essential for muscle recovery and growth. The growth hormone is primarily released during deep sleep, aiding in muscle repair and development.
- Pain Management: Sleep can reduce sensitivity to pain, making it an important factor in managing conditions like chronic pain.
- Immune Function: Quality sleep supports a healthy immune system, helping your body fend off infections and illnesses.
- Hormone Balance: Sleep is crucial for hormonal balance, including the regulation of cortisol (the stress hormone) and insulin (which controls blood sugar). Imbalances in these hormones can impact your physical health.
Sleep Hacks to Boost Physical Health:
- Establish a Routine: Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends.
- Create a Comfortable Sleep Environment: Ensure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and at a comfortably cool temperature (research indicates 67 degrees is optimal).
- Limit Screen Time: Avoid screens (phones, tablets, TVs) at least an hour before bedtime, as the blue light can interfere with your sleep-wake cycle.
- Watch Your Diet: Avoid heavy meals, caffeine, and alcohol close to bedtime.
- Regular Exercise: Engage in regular physical activity, but try to finish exercising at least a few hours before bedtime.
- Manage Stress: Practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga, to reduce stress and anxiety.
- Limit Naps: Short power naps can be refreshing, but long daytime naps can interfere with nighttime sleep.
Get More Zzzz’s
Do you like to meditate before bed? Check out our Sleep Series in the Relaxation Room channel on the App, featuring 5-9 mindfulness activities to help you get more Zzzzz’s.
Take a Deep Sleep Dive
Want to learn more about sleep? Access the latest scientific research from one of my favorite industry resources, Global Wellness Institute.
About Melanie Webb and WebbWell
Named “The person to call” by DEPARTURES Magazine, “a leader in the adventure travel industry” by Norie Quintos of National Geographic Traveler, and “one of the top trainers in the industry” by The Sports Club/LA (now Equinox), Melanie Webb is the founder and creator of WebbWell and the WebbWell wellness app. A sought-after industry and corporate retreat facilitator and speaker, her fitness course Mother Nature’s Gym Outdoor Fitness Guide is approved for 1.6 CEC’s from American Council on Exercise.