As winter leaves and the days finally start to get longer, many people find themselves motivated to begin putting their summer fitness plan into action. The gyms start to fill up again, and the pavements are pounded by runners taking advantage of the lighter evenings.
This is a pattern which extends from elite professional athletes right down to casual exercisers, but unfortunately a lot of people don’t stick to their new regime. After a few weeks, people lose that initial enthusiasm and once again become bogged down by their hectic schedule.
It’s all too easy for daily responsibilities to get in the way of our fitness targets and goals, but sometimes it’s simply a lack of motivation which prevents us from getting up and getting moving — and this is something which is directly impacted by sleep quality.
We all know that sleep can affect our energy levels. Without a good night’s sleep, we’re exhausted, lethargic and irritable. So it always strikes me as odd that people who are putting so much effort into maintaining a healthy eating and exercise regime aren’t doing the same with their sleep schedule.
Sleep is a key platform for improving mental and physical performance, so much so that missing a chunk of quality sleep is just like skipping the gym or giving in to a calorific meal.
While we are asleep, our bodies are busy recovering from the day’s efforts. Everything from muscle repair (which helps us get back to the gym quickly) to hormone production occurs while we sleep. If you skip out on a good night’s sleep, the consequences could be low energy levels and a lack of concentration next day. And this means less motivation to hit the gym and a dip in form if you do manage to get there.
Diet is another factor which is closely linked to our sleep quality. When we are sleep deprived, our bodies try to make up for it by telling us to consume a lot more calories as a way of getting some energy, resulting in cravings for high calorie foods. In fact, some research suggests that our brains demand up to 900 extra calories when we’re deprived of sleep.
What’s worse is that indulging these cravings means consuming a lot of sugar, which is both unhealthy and only provides temporary energy before making your slump even worse. This will make you even less inclined to work out, and there is nothing quite as demotivating as seeing your progress slow and backtrack.
Missing out on sleep can be directly correlated with missing out on gym targets. This is why it’s so important to leave enough time for sleep, and to make sure your sleep environment is just right. This might mean making your room cool and dark, avoiding caffeine or switching off your phone an hour before bed. Whatever it takes to help you sleep, it’s important to build sleep goals alongside exercise goals. This will make it much more likely that you will get that summer body you’re after.
For me, getting the perfect sleep environment meant upgrading my mattress to a Mammoth, which helps my body rest, repair and recover at the optimum level.