We all know the frustration of getting into bed, ready for a full night’s sleep and not being able to drop off for hours. The more you watch the time tick by, the less tired you feel.
In our fast-paced world, anything from thinking about a big work project, burning the candle at both ends, consuming too much caffeine or the blue light radiating from our devices and screens could be behind the interruption to our delicate sleep cycle.
Adverse effects of not getting enough sleep range from waking up grumpy, with bags under your eyes and craving sugary snacks, to not being able to focus. However, these are only short-term repercussions, because your sleep deficit could be impacting your overall health more than you realise.
How much sleep should I be getting?
The NHS recommends adults get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night to function at our best. But as everyone has different needs, you may find that if you are waking up tired and longing for your bed you may not be getting the quality sleep you need. After even a short period without meeting the recommended hours of valuable sleep, you may experience brain fog and lack of concentration. Regularly failing to meet this amount of sleep may lead to serious health issues such as obesity and high blood pressure –which can shorten your life.
Getting enough sleep can help boost your immune system, can enhance mental wellbeing and help you maintain a healthy weight. There is also evidence to suggest that improved periods of shuteye can increase fertility and have a positive impact on preventing both diabetes and heart disease.
Burn the calories, not the midnight oil
It may feel counter-intuitive to work out when you feel tired, but research has shown a correlation between exercising and better-quality sleep. When you exercise you expend energy, making you physically (as opposed to just mentally) tired by the end of the day.
Getting 30 minutes of any type of exercise a day can improve sleep, however, the key is to make sure you have a consistent routine for the greatest benefits.
Stress and anxiety can also greatly impact our rest and are a common cause of sleep problems. Exercising reduces stress by lowering cortisol levels and can help you relax. Holistic exercises like yoga can help you reconnect mind, body, and spirit. These disciplines gently stretch the body whilst giving you mediation time, which centres the mind, allowing you to switch off from your day-to-day worries.
Are you a night owl or an early bird?
Along with needing differing amounts of sleep, not everyone likes to exercise at the same time of day.
If you want to create a routine that is easy to follow, incorporating exercise into your morning is likely to be the easiest way. Getting up and working out means that you are less likely to put it off as the day wears on. The great news is that morning exercise can improve sleep duration and therefore increase the reparative hours of kip by up to 75% more than exercising at any other time of day. Try classes like aerobics, Barrecore and BODYCOMBAT for full body workouts.
Not a morning person? Don’t worry. There are advantages to an afternoon/evening workout too. As your body temperature is slightly higher, your muscles can work more effectively which can lower your risk of injury. Body temperature is also important when it comes to sleep as when it decreases, it is a signal for your body that it is time to sleep. By exercising in the afternoon, it gives your body time for the increase to your temperature (which is a direct impact of working out) to return to a more sleep-friendly level. Try Zumba®, Boxercise® and indoor group cycling classes for great ways to keep active at dusk.
Just make sure to take it easy as more strenuous late evening (post 9pm) exercise can have an adverse effect on sleep. That is why yoga and Pilates are perfect before bed as they keep you active without disrupting your sleep.
Regardless of the time, there is always a class that will help you work out at the best time for you.