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Why getting enough sleep plays a pivotal role in your fitness and health regime

Don’t underestimate the power of those zzzzzzzs.

Image: Shutterstock/Ollyy

SLEEP IS ONE of the most important, but often overlooked, aspects of fitness and health.

Sleep is our natural form of recovery and essential to rebooting our system.

Most people wouldn’t dare leave their phone plugged out at nigh, yet people are ultimately not allowing their bodies to return to 100% by neglecting sleep.

We should wake up refreshed and somewhat energetic, which is in stark contrast to the enduring struggle of dragging oneself out of bed each morning.

For athletes especially, sleep is your friend. Sleeping in and naps are often associated with laziness but from an athletic point of view, the more the better.

EXOS, the strength & conditioning facility we trained in, has a special nap room for athletes to get some shut-eye in between sessions.

Swansea City did something similar this pre-season with the addition of sleep pods on the training ground.

Tweet by @Swansea City AFC Source: Swansea City AFC/Twitter

 

A recent study in Canada has shown student athletes getting less than eight hours of sleep per night were significantly more likely to pick up injuries than athletes who slept more than eight hours per night.

Without proper recovery methods, through nutrition and sleep, much of your training and hard work is wasted.

Here are some tips to help sleep your way to better health:

  • You should be aiming for 8/9 hours of sleep per night.
  • Nap for 20 or 60 minutes whenever possible.
  • Your room should be like a bat cave – pitch black. Get dark curtains and remove any external light.
  • No electronics plugged in in the room. Ideally leave them out of the room.
  • Get a battery-powered alarm clock instead of using your phone.
  • Don’t watch TV, use your iPad or phone or any other artificial light in bed. The blue light emitted by these devices mimics that effects of sunlight on us and upsets our circadian rhythm (natural wake/sleep cycle).
  • Try not take in any caffeine or other stimulants after 5pm.
  • Take a hot shower/bath for 15 mins before bed – great for those struggling to unwind on training nights.
  • Have a simple set routine each night going to bed. Something as simple as the order that you undress and wash face/teeth is a start.
  • Track your sleep – Sleep cycle App
  • Write down your plans for the following day, this is especially good for those of you that lay awake thinking about stuff, put it on paper and it is taken care of and you can relax.

In association with Elite Physical Prep. Check out their websiteTwitter or Facebook for more information.

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