Go to Sleep, Bitches

I have spent the last couple of posts talking about ways to find the motivation you need to get into the gym as well as figuring out how to get the most out of a workout, and if you have read them you will know that there is so much more that goes into seeing physical improvements over time than just having the energy to increase increase the level of intensity. There are several other key variables that play a hand in consistent, healthy progress, the main one being diet (big shocker there.)  I purposely avoided another very important factor that ties into getting results because I feel this should be a completely separate post altogether: sleep.

Long story short, having to convert from a muscular/athletic build to a very long and thin frame for modeling required me to lose just shy of 60 pounds. Anyone who has taken off a significant amount of weight knows that starting is not the hard part, it’s the last 10-20 pounds that just don’t seem to want to come off. As the saying goes, the closer you are to your goals, the harder it will be to achieve them. After weeks of trying just about everything I could think of to shed the last few pounds and not succeeding, I decided to go back to the basics and make sure I was following the fundamentals of weight loss: diet, water consumption, stress control, and sleep. It was only when I started controlling and measuring the amount of sleep I got each night that I was able to finally get down to where I wanted to be.

I get it, between school, work and trying to maintain a social life it’s really difficult to get the recommended eight hours of sleep each night, but I promise you, this is one of the most important factors of weight loss that is usually overlooked and can be detrimental to your health in the long run. Getting eight hours every night is easily doable, it all comes down to is discipline and time management. Learn to be an early riser and get as much school work or your workout done as early as possible so the majority of the day will be free to attend class, visit with friends or work. Have a set time every night that you know you need to be sleeping by, and plan on physically getting into bed at least fifteen minutes before that to allow your mind to slow down and relax before falling asleep. The goal is to make sure you are sleeping by the set time to achieve the full eight hours you have set aside for yourself.

Sometimes we have days where it seems we cannot fall asleep, and end up tossing and turning for hours. These nights are by far the worst, but there are a few things you can do to decrease the risk of this happening. The first of those is avoid looking at your phone for at least an hour before bedtime. I know, I know, mission impossible, right? If you find you are an absolute addict, then turn the brightness down for the last hour. The brightness of the phone screen has been scientifically proven to keep your mind in that “buzzing” state, making it harder to turn your brain off for sleep right after putting down the device.

In addition to avoid looking at a bright phone or computer screen, create a relaxing bedtime routine for yourself. This could be as little as five minutes to just exfoliate your face, brush your teeth or even taking a few minutes to stretch and breathe deeply. Whatever you find you need to do before climbing into bed, write those things down and then get into the habit of doing them in the same order every night. This way, your mind will grow to recognize this as your bedtime ritual and will start the process of turning your mind off and will make falling asleep much easier.

Make sure your room is clean – or decent. As another very popular saying goes: you are a product of your environment. Cluttered life = cluttered mind. You may not realize it, but it can be hard for your mind to truly relax when you’re in the middle of what looks like the aftermath of World War 3. Now I’m not suggesting you make it spotless, just try taking some time to put a few stray articles of clothing in the laundry bin or clearing off your desk before going to sleep. The process of cleaning and decluttering the environment around you physically will also help your mind declutter as well. If you are thinking to yourself, there is no way in hell I am cleaning before I go to bed…all I can say is don’t knock it before you try it. Like I said it doesn’t have to be cleaned to your mother’s standards. To make it somewhat bearable, put on an audible or listen to some relaxing music while you’re straightening up. You may be surprised at just how relaxing it can be.

There are endless benefits of sleep, including the increase in cognitive performance and focus as well as lowering the risk for serious health problems. This is not news to you, you have heard this all before. However, one of the main benefits of sleep that gets overlooked and forgotten about is that sleep plays a HUGE role in aiding weight loss. Not to mention it has been shown to significantly reduce stress – another important factor in maximizing weight loss…I will not get too crazy with the details as there are endless scientific articles that can be read on the topic, just remember that no amount of hard work you put in the gym will show if you are not allowing your body and mind the proper recovery time it needs. So go to sleep, bitches.

Advertisements