The Sleep Series – PART ONE

The sleep series 

In a time where working hours are long, technology constantly invades our lives and our time feels stretched to the limits sleep often quickly gets pushed to bottom of our priority list. With so much focus now on exercising regularly and eating well we can often forget how important sleep is to our health and how detrimental it can be if we don’t regularly get enough.

Having worked with City clients for the last 5 years sleep deprivation is incredibly common and often one of the main reason why results stall and progress suffers. From client dinners, high stress levels, to needing time to unwind after work there are many reasons why sleep takes a hit. With the average person in the UK only getting around 6.5 hours night when the recommended amount it that elusive 9 hours it is no wonder everyone feels a bit aggy and grumpy on the morning commute.

It is ultimately about choice, we need to as a population start deciding to prioritise our sleep in order to be able to function better, feel happier and live longer. I am certainly not preaching, for years I had to get up at 4:30am and really struggled with getting enough sleep and being able to sleep well, but I found ways to maximise the quality of my sleep and do my best with the situation I was in.

In this series I am going to explore how you can tell if you are being effected by poor quality sleep,  look at effects lack of sleep has on the body and then practically tell you how you can improve your sleep so that even if you can only get 7 hours it is the best quality sleep possible.

 

Are you getting enough and is it high quality stuff?

It is completely possible to push on through life in a sleep deprived state and convince yourself that you are perfectly fine and you are one of the lucky few who really only need 4 hours to function! That might be the case, but just to make sure, we have detailed a number of indicators that can show you whether you are suffering from a lack of sleep or whether your sleep is providing you with the rest and recovery your body needs.

  • Are regularly getting ill?

Poor sleep increase the bodies level of inflammation duke to its effect on hormonal balance.This in turn increases our vulnerability to viruses and bacteria. With the body less able to fight these invaders we are more likely to get sick as well increasing your risk of heart disease and other illness related to high levels of inflammation.

  • Can’t think straight?

Poor sleep can effect our ability to focus and concentrate, impair judgement, result in forgetfulness and confusion. This is because the different things we learn and , experience throughout the day are process and filtered when we are sleeping, if this process is disrupted or shorten it can affect on cognitive function.

  • Low moody and feeling of unhappiness?

There are many reasons why our mood can be low, but if sleep quality is poor our mood can suffer so it’a worth considering if you are feeling unhappy.

While we sleep the body regulates hormone production and produces new neurotransmitters, both important factors to keeping our mood stable and positive. If hormone balance is disrupted it can result in mood swings, increased levels or stress, low mood and can increase the risk of depression.

  • Training hard but can’t shift the weight?

As already mentioned poor sleep effects our hormonal production, it will result in an increased level of cortisol (stress hormone), with this comes higher levels of inflammation and reduced insulin sensitivity meaning the body is more likely to store extra energy as fat. It also results in decreased levels leptin and increased levels of grenlin, these are the hormone that regulate appetite and when grenlin is high appetite is high. Therefore poor sleep increases our appetite ands leads to increases craving for carbs meaning we are more likely to over eat. As well as this growth hormone is reduced as well as thyroid function, both of which will have an effect on body composition.

  • No energy or motivation?

Sleep is the time when the body repairs and recovers from exercise. If you’ve are training hard but not giving the body a chance to restore itself you will start to inhibit your recovery and your progress. If you are finding that a session which you could power though before is now feeling really hard, you maybe can’t work as hard for as long or you have started to lose your motivation to train altogether  consider your sleep and make sure you are getting enough. These issues can also be a result of over training but this is more rare but worth keeping in mind if you do train a lot.

This lack of energy can also be present in everyday life. If you are feeling lackluster and demotivated it might well be linked to your sleep.


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