“I’m too tired to train and my sleeping isn’t going well. I’m finding my motivation is now slipping and I don’t really want to exercise at the moment.”
If this sounds like you then keep reading. We will discuss why sleep is important and how lack of sleep affects us. We will talk about how we can adjust our lifestyles to improve our sleep. By learning all of this it will help us to have a more efficient exercise routine and lifestyle.
So Why Is Sleep So Important?
Sleep is an essential part of your exercise training regime. Sleep helps with the production of the energy that you need for training sessions. You are much more responsive to training when you’ve had sleep. It is not just important for training however. Sleep provides you with the energy that you need to get through the day in general.
You also need to allow your body to recover after working out. The key time that this happens is at night-time whilst you are sleeping. Whilst sleeping your body repairs any damage to its cells and muscle fibres attained from training.
You may be thinking – yeah, I know this, I agree. And it’s not that you don’t care or don’t want to get more sleep. The issue could be that you’re having trouble sleeping. But through lack of sleep your exercise routine is probably starting to slip away as a result.
Stop and think about what is going on in your life. Is there anything that could be disrupting your sleep?
Think about your diet – is your eating routine a little out of whack? Are you opting for convenient fast food options rather than making healthier food choices? Or maybe you are eating too late at night not allowing time for the food to digest before bed.
It could be a scheduling issue and the feeling of not having enough hours in the day. Maybe you have had to forgo your exercise routine due to the kids’ schedules changing. Or maybe it is a busy period at work or in your volunteer role and your hours have increased. With more deadlines and commitments it’s putting pressure elsewhere in your life.
Finding out what could be affecting your sleep is the first step to improving it. You can plan how to better manage your day to day life and ease the stress and pressures. By making adjustments to your days you will get a better night’s sleep. Ultimately this will get you back into a routine of wanting to exercise again.
How Can We Improve Our Sleep?
Create a night-time routine.
Humans work on routine so well and we are very automated in our thinking. By setting up a regular bed-time pattern it will help our brains know that it is time to sleep. Have your set night time tasks – “I’ll put this down, I’ll move the pillows, I’ll move the cushions over here, I’ll get my glass of water”. By following the same routine each night our brain will know to focus just on sleep.
Build a comfortable environment in which to sleep.
So this could be the room temperature for example. Increase the warmth in winter, make it cooler in the summer. You don’t want to be too hot or too cold. You could also adjust the light settings, maybe you need blackout curtains if there is too much light. Also make sure there are no blue lights. This means no phones and no TV a good hour or so before going to bed. A weighted blanket is also worth trying as it may help your body feel at ease whilst in bed.
Reduce the daily stresses and anxiety around going to sleep.
However, do this away from the bedroom! Don’t go to bed and get stuck thinking about it. Instead try some journaling and write down all of the things that are currently on your mind. Put your thoughts down on paper and then you can visualize and see what’s going on. By taking it out of your mind you’re allowing yourself to process your thoughts at a more appropriate time. This then lets your mind rest when it’s time for sleep.
Get sunlight into our bodies.
Our bodies and minds react differently to the sun and the moon and we need to be exposed to both. We need to have the warmth from the sun to boost our moods in the daytime. Then as the sun goes down and the darker conditions emerge our bodies and minds naturally start to relax and wind down. By ensuring you have more daylight in the morning and early afternoons you are giving your body the nutrients that it needs. This then helps get your body clock into motion to slow itself down in preparation for sleep and regeneration.
Create a morning routine.
By having a morning routine you will start your day off positively. Try to wake up the same time every day. If you need to be up at 6am then set your alarm for then each day and get up then every time. Our bodies follow what is called the circadian rhythm which helps regulate our sleep-wake cycle. By waking up and going to bed around the same time it helps our bodies keep the routine and rhythm it needs. If we stray from this and change the times we wake up and go to bed it throws our body clock out. Our bodies will not know when to sleep and wake. As a result it will make it harder to both fall asleep and wake up on time.
Adapting Your Exercise Routine
Exercising with sleep disruptions can be tricky as your desire to work out tends to decrease as your sleep is disturbed. We have already discussed ways to improve your sleep and adapt your daily routines. Now it is time to look further into your exercise routine itself.
Much like our eating habits and our sleep patterns, having a routine will allow us to stay in the same pattern with exercise. If you are finding that your current routine is not working for you then rather than fail at it we need to look into altering it.
It could be that you have set your expectations too high and you are pushing yourself to do more exercise than what is viable. Perhaps the times that you are training are not suitable to fit in with your sleeping routine. Or maybe you need to look into trying a different type of workout – instead of doing all strength work try some cardio work.
All these little factors can have an impact on your exercise routine. By adapting the parts that are no longer working so well it will change your approach to exercise as well as help manage any disruptions to your sleep.
Show Me Some Examples!
Maybe you currently only do online workouts at home. You try and follow a workout video a couple of days a week when you have the house to yourself. But with nobody there to push you now you are finding that you are making excuses to not to workout. To overcome this try going to a group training session instead. You will have the support of someone guiding you and the fellow peers around you to get your motivated and inspired to want to go.
Or maybe you already do group classes but you have hit a lull or the class times no longer work for you. Personal training sessions could benefit your lifestyle so much more. You can work with your trainer and schedule times that are more suitable for you. You will also get that individual training, support and guidance to help you achieve your personal goals.