With many modern-day workers balancing a full-time job, familial responsibilities and busy social lives, one of the essential components of health which tends to get neglected is their sleep. But, why is sleep so important?
Your progress toward your health and fitness goals depends greatly on three key variables: diet, exercise and sleep. As an exercise physiologist, I repeatedly tell clients about the importance of getting enough sleep and the significant effect that it can have on their training. It affects not only their performance in the gym, but also leaks into other areas of their lives. A 2016 review study found that sleep plays a central role in maintaining the hunger hormones that regulate appetite and cravings. The research reported that sleep-deprived subjects tend to take in an additional 385 more calories per day in comparison to their rested counterparts. It’s clear to understand how these additional calories can contribute to weight gain over the long term.
Additionally, when you’re deprived of sleep, you’re more likely to injure yourself, have suppressed immunity, be forgetful and experience irritable moods throughout the day. The following are 2 effective strategies to help circumvent the vicious cycle of sleep deprivation.
Timing Your Caffeine Intake
For many busy workers, caffeine is the stimulant of choice to get through the day and productively complete their daily workloads. Despite the glorious effects of our favourite brew, a study conducted by the University of Colorado found that drinking caffeine as much as six hours before bed can affect sleep quality and may delay the human biological clock by 40 minutes and interrupts the body’s ability to recognise when it’s bedtime. In addition to avoiding caffeine late in the day, the evidence also advises to wake up around the same time every morning, even if you can’t get to sleep at the same time every night. This helps familiarise your body to your regular wake-up time, regardless of how much sleep you get the night before.
Take Power Naps
At our corporate health facilities, many workers report that they aren’t getting enough sleep due to factors such as family obligations or simply working extended hours due to the nature of their role. Luckily, a study published in Nature Neuroscience presented a valid solution to this issue – take a nap. Researchers tested subjects on their perceptual performance four times throughout the day. Performance worsened with each test, but subjects who took a 30-minute nap between tests stopped the decline in performance.
The ideal nap prescription is set at around 20 minutes to become optimal. Any longer and you risk waking up in the middle of the deep-sleep phase of your sleep cycle, which may cause you grogginess. To elicit the best effects of a nap, try to find a quiet place without a lot of ambient noise. Finding secluded spaces like your car, paired with a sleeping mask and earplugs can greatly help in taking the perfect nap.
Overall, if you feel tired throughout the day, it’s a good sign you may need more or better-quality sleep. According one of the world’s leading sleep experts, neuroscientist Dr. Matthew Walker states that widespread lack of sleep is one of the biggest public health challenges we face in the 21st century. A big part of tackling this issue is prioritising sleep and establishing a bedtime routine that helps create a trigger within your brain that it’s time for sleeping and avoiding excessive caffeine intakes later on in the day.
Restfulness has long been secondary to the culture of hard work and productivity. However, it seems that the evidence is building toward the notion of restfulness in pursuit of greater productivity.
If you’d like to learn more about more ways you can curb your daytime tiredness and get the most out of your day, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
B.Sc. Exercise Science & Rehabilitation
Accredited Exercise Physiologist
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Mednick, S. C., Nakayama, K., Cantero, J. L., Atienza, M., Levin, A. A., Pathak, N., & Stickgold, R. (2002). The restorative effect of naps on perceptual deterioration. Nature neuroscience, 5(7), 677.
Prather, A. A., Leung, C. W., Adler, N. E., Ritchie, L., Laraia, B., & Epel, E. S. (2016). Short and sweet: Associations between self-reported sleep duration and sugar-sweetened beverage consumption among adults in the United States. Sleep health, 2(4), 272-276.
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