Friday, July 11, 2014

Should you be getting more sleep at night?

Hey there friends on this wonderful FRIDAY!!!! Who's happy????Me! That's who! Because it's the day- almost the weekend duh! So, I have a bit of a different post today, but I want to start doing these more often; especially with all the neato-factoids rolling around in my head on a daily basis, I figured I would share them with you guys!! Lucky you right? 

I KNOW!!! :) So this topic is actually inspired by my own personal deficit (we'll call it that) this week...It has definitely prompted a few questions. So, shall we chat?

I kinda feel like this today! (OK not kinda...)

How many of you get 8 hours of sleep at night? I would imagine not many; and maybe some of you do. That's so great! Maybe you can give me a few pointers after all this. :) 

For those that don't, why do you think that is? Maybe you're 'too busy' at night like me, or you might have personal stressors that keep you up later at night; maybe you had a completely different reason or maybe it was just an "off-week"...I know a few of those things (need I say all sometimes...or this week) plagued me and are doing a number on me today. I even had to leave the office before lunch to re-energize a bit, and run a few errands. 

d you know that a lack of sleep on a daily basis can really negatively affect your health in more than one way? Not to mention the effects on your fitness results...I saw this little guy below earlier, and as I was thinking about lunchtime I noticed my subconscious tugging at me to eat again; even though I ate a meal only an hour and a half ago. 

On that note for a second, I saw a facebook post from someone earlier that made me think of this. In the post, the person was saying how he or she was "always hungry" and "always eating everything whether healthy or not." Now that could or could not be related to this topic I'm talking about, so I thought to include it. Now if it isn't, then it sounds like either the person isn't eating enough of the right foods to satisfy their nutritional needs and they should eat more food OR they need to learn how to deal with cravings in the right way...I digress. Maybe another day :)

If you are always tired, or always hungry, or worse- both; then it could be a number of things, from your sleep patterns to your nutrition. Since we are mainly focusing on sleep today, let's go with that. Think about your sleep patterns throughout the week. Are you getting enough sleep each night and each week? Are you waking up before the end of a sleep cycle (say in the middle of the night or before your alarm)? Are you not sleeping enough cycles? 

In order to wake feeling refreshed and energized, our bodies need to wake up at the end of a full sleep cycle. For most people that is about 1 and 1/2 hours long and it takes around 14 minutes for you to fall asleep. And typically a good night's sleep consists of 5-6 sleep cycles. If you go to bed at 9 pm; you should wake up at 4:30 am or 6:00 am to get a good night's rest. 

So think about it...I know I personally try to line this up every night; and there is an awesome calculator that does it for you until you get the hang of it (click here). 

To boot, if you aren't getting enough sleep, then it can make you feel more hungry throughout the day. Livestrong tells us, 
"A lack of sleep causes your body to produce too much of the hormone that triggers hunger, called ghrelin, and too little of the appetite-suppressing hormone, called leptin."
In other words, if you don't get enough sleep you are going to feel more hungry; even if you just ate not too long before the feeling begins. And if you feel hungry (unless you're bored or thirsty ;) ) what do most people do? They eat. And for most typical Americans, usually the quickest most satisfying thing wins.  You can see where I'm going with this. 

So, remember the feeling I had around lunchtime? Not bored ( nah!), not thirsty (says the gallon-jug girl). The only option left?? Severe lack of sleep this week! Definitely I know something I am going to fix right when this work day ends. Taking myself to the house! Or the bed really...

So you definitely want to make sure that you are doing these things. But say you have a routine, or are severely busy during the week. Maybe you start feeling 'off' and just can't place it. You know you aren't sick...But something isn't right and you start to notice little things that are affecting your everyday life. If this happens, start to look at your habits and your routine.

Here are a few things that might mean you need more sleep at night:

  • Simple tasks may seem overwhelming, or you get stressed out easily.
  • You can't seem to remember simple things; maybe what you ate for breakfast...
  • You can't seem to focus on what you are doing
  • You're acting a lot like a 'Debbie-downer or a Negative-Nancy'
  • You're creative juices just aren't there 
  • You want to eat constantly; even after eating only a short time before. (This is definitely a real thing and was part of what prompted this post for me around lunch  )
or maybe...

These are some of the major things related to sleep deprivation, and I wanted to touch on this because of my personal experience; and let me tell you, it is no fun! It is one thing to not get 8 complete hours for one night or two; but something entirely different when you continuously do it to a drastic extent (say 4-5 hours or less) and don't have a recovery period. Like in a work-week for example.

Not only will lack of sleep start to affect your normal performance at work or in your daily activities; but if you are on a fitness program or routine, you may not be seeing the results you want. In order for your body to continuously improve and perform better each day, you have to give enough time for proper recovery. And lack of sleep here will only hinder that goal you are trying to reach. Trust me I have personally seen this happen in my journey. 

Earlier on in my fitness journey I was not seeing the results I wanted. A few things were the culprit, but one thing I was not expecting was my lack of sleep affecting my fitness results. I was and still sometimes only get about 5-6 hours of sleep; which the older I get, the harder it is to recover with this small amount each night. By the end of the week sometimes, I am zonked! And it takes me sleeping in every day of the weekend to recover. Not on an unusually busy week either. 

And you wonder why you look less puffy and healthier after a weekend of rest! So needless to say, I have taken some time off from the gym this week (2 days already) and I am not ashamed about it at all. Deciding to take time off from the gym could be one of the best things I have done this week for both myself mentally and physically. Then after a good night's sleep, it will be back to the grindstone!

And just for kicks, here are a few tips to fall asleep quicker and stay asleep to make sure you get the full rest you need!

  • Get into a routine! Know your routine at night and what you need to have ready for the next day, so there is no guessing when it comes time for bed. And your body likes being in a routine, so when you begin this each night, you will be ready for sleep the more the routine is established. 
  • Listen to your body! Your body will tell you when it is time to wind down at night and go to sleep. Listen and be prepared so you don't feel that "second wind" and are up another few hours before you know it. I know for me, it is obvious when I am ready to go to bed at night; and I hope to get a routine down in the near future so I can hit this time every night. Or maybe start my routine then... 
  • Use your bed for what it's for! K-I-S-S (Keep it simple stupid ;) ) as I have heard a lot before lol. You need to associate your bed with relaxing, so that at night when you climb in your brain is already ahead of you and ready to relax and go to sleep. Don't watch TV, work, text or anything that stimulates your brain while in bed (except for...well you can guess). Your brain will take this stimulation and instead of relaxing, you might be up longer than your body needs to be because of the associated actions. 
  • Don't worry late at night and leave your worries from the day outside of the room. Focus on other things, not complicated worries you may have. Don't try to discuss complicated matters before bed (LADIES- eh-hem!). If you have to, try mental exercises to relax your mind. 
  • Get all that excess energy out! However you have to, whether it's taking a class at night, or going to the gym after work, make sure to do something physical to exhaust that energy you may have that could otherwise keep you up. 
  • Try to relax! Whether this is by deep breathing, stretching, maybe relaxing yoga before bed, or other relaxation techniques, try to relax your mind and your body when it is time to go to sleep. And this brings me to the next tip...
  • Turn off anything that will emit light in your bedroom. The TV, cell phones, or any other electronic device that will emit light, especially the 'blue light' these devices emit, could be wrecking your sleep! Studies have shown that this blue light reduces the production of melatonin, which is the major hormone that controls sleep and wake cycles. 

These and many other things could definitely help at night for getting those ZzZzZz's! I know I have tried a few of these myself and they definitely help! Now if I can just start earlier!

So there's a little bit of healthy living knowledge for your Friday, and a life lesson in there too! Do what is best for your body, and make sure your are taking all necessary steps to allow for proper recovery; especially following or during extra-stressful times in your life (or ladies -sorry fellas- especially during that time of month!). We all go through normal stresses and definitely don't need to make it harder on ourselves.

Do you have problems getting to bed on time or getting enough sleep? What are some things that you personally have done or are doing to help with that process? I would love to hear your answers and will contribute mine below once we get a discussion going :)

Here are my sources if you want a bit of extra info!

And who doesn't love this? (sorry language!)


  1. Great post. I definitely need to follow this advice. I feel I NEED to get in to a routine to sleep. Would love to share this post on my FB page if you let me.

    1. Thanks lady! I am trying to take my own advice more often :) It is taking me a while but at least my body is tired at the same time every night almost now lol. Share away!! I am happy for you to!