This is Part three of TWPT's Health in lockdown blog series. Which focuses on how sleep is an important but often overlooked part of overall health. Sleep is so integral to the system that it can often be the easiest way to bridge plateaus if deficient. As a personal trainer, I often see plateaus in strength or weight loss overcome just by an improvement in sleeping habits. That step-up in weight lifted has sometimes just required a good night's sleep. Better control over the diet can be helped with improvements in sleep habits. Sleep can also, help make us more robust and deal with stressors more effectively.
For some reason, sleep is often overlooked, it gets forgotten about and it's very easy to get into a cycle of not sleeping properly, and living with being tired, we forget what it is like to be well-rested. If we have work to finish, revision to do or tv programmes to watch then sleep can easily be pushed to one side. When you sleep you go through several cycles that include, recovery of the body, memory consolidation, and complex learning and has a knock-on effect on the endocrine system (hormones), plus is strongly linked to issues with mental health including anxiety and stress. Studies have shown people who sleep below the recommended amount (7-9 hours for an adult) are more likely to be overweight and obese along with the health issues that run alongside. This is due to the dysregulation of our hunger hormones.
To get a good nights sleep we should be giving ourselves plenty of time to hit the 7-9 hours and without the commute, we now have more time than ever for this, try not to watch tv, iPad and phones until right before bed as the white light will stimulate cortisol (hormone) and your body will not allow itself to be tired.
Create a relaxing bedroom environment, invest in a top-quality bed, a decent mattress, good bed sheets, and a great pillow can actually make a huge difference to the quality of sleep you have. Make sure the room is at the right temperature, around 18 degrees is perfect, over 24 degrees and you will be restless.
Think carefully about consuming caffeine and alcohol. Both can negatively affect the quality of sleep you have, often even if you do sleep with either in the system, the quality will be greatly reduced. Caffeine metabolism is different for everyone, but as a rule of thumb, just to be safe, don't have caffeine after 2pm, this is maybe even too late for some, as personally, I can't have caffeine past 12pm. If I do it stops me from getting to sleep. Limit alcohol consumption too, especially when you feel the need to catch up on sleep.
Reading or listening to something that helps you switch off, can be a great way to wind down before bed. Resist the urge to check emails or social media.
Trying to keep a routine especially during the week will keep you in a better place both mentally and physically during this time, staying up until 3am every night trying to complete Netflix may not be the one!
Finally, set your phone to do not disturb. There's nothing worse than drifting off only to be woken up by a loud vibration or text message alert.
That concludes our blog on sleep, hopefully, this has helped highlight how important sleep is, and how there is as much value in having a strategy for sleep, as there is for exercise and nutrition.
Our last blog in the series will focus on mindset and stress. If this is the first blog in the series you've read then check out the first and the second in the series. Part 1 - Exercise in lockdown and Part 2 - Nutrition.
Thanks for reading, and if you need any more help or advice feel free to drop us a message at TWPT.