To achieve peak levels of health and fitness, we need to pay attention to four key elements: exercise, nutrition, stress management, and sleep.
Most of us spend a lot of time thinking about numbers one and two, and less time thinking about numbers three and four. But if we aren’t doing everything we can to maximize our recovery, including getting quality sleep, all our hard work in the gym is wasted and could even lead to injury.
Studies show that the ideal amount of sleep is 8-10 hours per night. Yeah, I know: 10 hours of sleep every night sounds totally unrealistic. It’s definitely not easy, but there are things we can do to develop the habit of getting more sleep.
- Make eating better and improving your nutrition priorities.
- Develop a routine that you perform each night before going to sleep. Over time, your body will take the repetition of these tasks as a cue that it is time to sleep.
- Most of us have a list of daily to-dos a mile long. It sounds silly, but set an alarm on your phone and make starting your bedtime routine a to-do. Stick to it.
- Keep the room you sleep in dark, quiet, and cool.
- Drink caffeine too late in the day.
- Have a big meal within three hours of beginning your bedtime routine.
- Take long naps during the day. Sometimes it’s unavoidable, but try to keep them under 30 minutes to avoid throwing off your biological clock.
- This is a hard one–don’t use your phone right before closing your eyes for the night. The phone screen keeps our brains alerted and makes it harder to doze off.
Exercise, nutrition, stress management and sleep operate like a math equation. Add all four together and the result is your fitness. You can also think of them as a type of feedback loop. They all directly impact each other–the loop isn’t in balance until we’re treating each of the four parts with equal importance.
At this point you’re probably worried you aren’t maximizing your potential because your sleep quality isn’t great. The good news is, getting more sleep is just a matter of developing the systems and habits that allow you to make it a daily part of your life. Try some of the above tips and make it a priority to get more sleep!