Sleep -The Instinctive Workout by Dr. David Synnott
How to Improve Your Sleep
- How do you know if you’re getting enough sleep?
- Impacts of lack of sleep
- Benefits of a good sleep
- 4 tips on how to improve your sleep quality
All too often we avoid sleep. We sometimes have an urge to dodge sleeping as it can feel so unproductive due to countless pressures in the modern world that feel much more important. While the specific reasons for why we sleep aren’t fully agreed upon by scientists around the world, the consensus is clear that it is absolutely necessary. Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising then, that the average person spends a third of their lifetime asleep. This means that the average 60-year-old has most likely spent 20 years in a slumber. What we don’t need a scientist to tell us is that we certainly don’t function at our best when we’re tired. Many might feel that completing our daily activities whilst sleep deprived is like going on a long road trip and taking the traffic-filled, country road rather than the efficient motorway. In reality, it’s more like starting the journey in a car with no wheels.
The good news is that this gives us the opportunity to embrace sleep and achieve simple self-improvements!
How do you know if you’re getting enough sleep?
We’re often told that adults require between 7 and 9 hours of sleep(1) and while this is helpful, it leaves 2 hours of ambiguity and we know there’s a big difference between waking up at 6am and 8am. This is because an adult requiring 8 hours of sleep is an average and we need to look at our own patterns to see what works for us. If you need your alarm to wake you from a deep sleep in the morning, if you’re taking a long time to get up, if you find yourself irritable after waking, or if your training partners, housemates, or work colleagues are saying you look visibly tired, chances are you’re not getting enough sleep. The promising part is that planning your evening to get to bed 30-60mins earlier may have a massive impact for you.
What impact does lack of sleep have?
When the brain is tired, it craves things that will wake it up. These include stimulants like caffeine and particular foods containing carbohydrates, particularly sugars. Studies have shown that adults who get less than 5 hours of sleep on a regular basis have higher rates of obesity and metabolic diseases like diabetes(8). For athletes, poor sleep quality can lead to inadequate performance and recovery, in fact it can take 2-3 days extra to recover from poor sleep. Various other biological benefits of embracing sleep have been extensively researched giving endless reasons to seek out your bed in the evening.
What impact does good sleep hygiene have?
One of the most immediate positive impacts we can accomplish through a good night’s sleep is increased productivity. Several studies have shown benefits of being well-rested in the workplace. Employees who have closer to 8 hours of sleep are less likely to miss days at work(2), are more efficient when present(2), make better judgements(3), and have fewer accidents in the workplace(4). Sleep can give the brain the ability to come up with a novel solution for the complex hurdle that has been bothering you today(5), maybe you really should “sleep on it”… Furthermore, those who get a full night’s sleep have better immunity against everyday infections(9).
Sleep has similar contributions to sport and exercise. In fact, the two can complement each other. Scheduling in a 30-minute jog during lunchtime or after work can help your body to relax in the evening as you prepare for bed, allowing you to drift unknowingly into your dreams at night. Many athletes and weekend warriors acknowledge the fact that sleep allows the body to recover and repair damage done during training and exercise, and have also taken into account the benefits of protein products when it comes to sleep. Tryptophan, an important amino acid, which can be found in our whey proteins, breaks down in the body to serotonin which in turn becomes melatonin, a key ingredient in the process of falling asleep.
Less time spent tossing and turning means you’re more likely to be feeling invigorated in the morning to try out a new workout or phone a friend to take on the hike you haven’t felt up to in a while. For elite athletes, competitive success in events is related to increased sleep time and quality, whilst poorer sleep quality has been shown to have independent negative impacts on competition rankings(6).
Sleep also has correlations with stress and mental well-being. By aiming to reduce stress levels before bed, many of us can improve our sleep quality and duration. Mindfulness meditation is a technique used by millions around the world as a method of relaxation. Using just 10-30mins of your evening to reflect, with the help of guided mindfulness, has been shown to induce improvements in anxiety, depression, and stress(7), which have symbiotic relationships with sleep. Good sleep improves mental well-being and enhanced wellbeing leads to better sleep. On the tougher days, we should ask ourselves, “Am I getting enough sleep?”
Now that you understand the impact of both good and bad sleep, take a look at some of our top tips to make sure you are making the best possible choices when it comes to maintaining a healthy sleep routine.
4 tips on how to improve your sleep hygiene:
1. Turn Down The Lights & Turn Off The Tech
For the 30mins before you go to bed, you should ideally be turning down the lights to almost darkness and having the last look at your phone or computer. The blue light from the screens of technology restrict the production of melatonin, the hormone that controls your biological clock, which might explain why, despite feeling tired when you put your phone down in bed, you end up lying there wide awake afterwards. The lightbulb and modern technology have given humans the ability to have 24 hours of productivity but it’s important to remember to take advantage of the countless positive impacts of simply being well-rested. Sleep can clear a murky mind so set yourself a target of 8 or 9 hours of sleep tonight and enjoy the guilt-free satisfaction of your bed for the benefit of your biopsychosocial health.
2. Optimise Your Sleeping Environment
Ideally, your bedroom should be cozy, but slightly cool in temperature. If there’s a possibility to let in the morning light this can be a top tip for those of us who take longer to get up the next day. Be sure to also change your bedsheets regularly, as we all love hopping into our comfy beds with fresh sheets on, especially after a warm shower.
3. Consider Supplements That Support Healthy Sleep Habits
Kinetica Zinc Mag+ capsules were created to help provide the best nutrient support prior to sleep. Team Kinetica recommend taking 3 capsules 30 to 60 minutes before bed for the best effect. Each capsule contains a scientifically designed blend of functional ingredients, vitamins and minerals including:
-Zinc, magnesium, Vit B6, C and E.
-Added ornithine alpha ketoglutarate and n-acetyl l cysteine.
-With selenium,copper and manganese.
4. Kinetica Whey Protein & Lean Active
Both Kinetica Whey Protein and Lean Active Protein products contain tryptophan, the important amino acid we referenced earlier in this article. As discussed, tryptophan breaks down in the body to serotonin which in turn becomes melatonin, a key ingredient in the process of falling asleep. It can also help to prevent muscle breakdown overnight. Team Kinetica recommend taking 1-2 scoops of these products before bed.
As always, at Kinetica we take the necessary steps to ensure consumers can trust the quality of our range. Each and every batch of Kinetica Zinc Mag+, Whey Protein, and Lean Active Protein is tested to comply to World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) exacting standards under the Informed Sport testing regime to ensure we offer our customers a safe and dependable sports nutrition product. Product safety is always our number one priority.
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