We always hear about how a good’s night sleep is good for us, but more often than not we put it down to age old adages or a mother’s tale to get children to bed earlier.
But sleep is vital for our health, well-being and our overall fitness; it boosts your physical health and your mental functioning. Find out why a long, deep slumber can do wonders for your body – more than just feeling relaxed, reducing black bags under your eyes, and soothing tired muscles.
The benefits of a good night’s sleep
When your head finally hits the pillow and your body relaxes into a state of sleep, your brain actually starts working a number of internal features that are essential for your health. Falling asleep stimulates these processes to begin. They include:
- Physical repairs
Giving your body the chance to rest and sleep is absolutely vital so that your internal systems can start work on repairing any damaged muscles caused by exercise. Your body will conduct a series of tests and checks, healing and protecting any blood vessels, fighting off any unwanted foreign bodies, and generally improving your physical health. Sleeping well and regularly will help prevent conditions like heart disease, kidney complications and diabetes.
- Hormone releases
Having a regular sleep cycle will also ensure that your hormones can balance themselves out at the appropriate times. When we sleep, our brains release a series of chemicals to help us relax, including lowering cortisol, a contributor to stress! It also signals growth hormones to get to work repairing those damaged tissues and muscles.
- Immune system maintenance
A strong immune system is essential if you want to stay healthy and fight off disease; when you don’t get a good night’s sleep, it’s your immune system which feels the effects. If this function doesn’t get the rest and attention it needs when you’re sleeping, you’ll find you pick up more colds and diseases a lot easier.
- Mental stimulation
The active part of our brain rests when we sleep too, and many studies show how many new connections are formed when we rest, as the mind processes and stores the day’s events. When you don’t sleep well, this doesn’t happen effectively. A bad sleep also means your mental performance will suffer the next day, with slower reaction times and less productive work.
- Promoting a healthy appearance
Yes, there really is such a thing as beauty sleep. As with the rest of the body, a good night’s sleep is essential in allowing your hormones and skin to regulate themselves and do any necessary healing work, smoothing out complexions and reducing those bags!
Combining exercise with a good slumber
Just as a good night’s sleep can help us exercise, so too can working out help us sleep. They work perfectly together, as long as you get the balance right.
A good night’s sleep can help us to maintain a healthy weight as our hormones can regulate themselves effectively, and if we wake feeling fresh and full of energy, we can enjoy a morning workout that will burn even more fat!
And after a good training session, you’ll find that you’ve reduced your body’s stress and anxiety levels, which means that come bedtime, you’ll be relaxed and able to fall into a deep sleep easily.
The key is a regular routine. Set a regular exercise plan at the gym (including rest days) and in time, your sleeping pattern will adjust naturally to this. Anything from regular walking to high intensity training – whatever works for your body.
One important note to remember is that it’s best to avoid night time exercise if you can. Your body will get more benefit from a morning workout in general, but also when you work out late a night, you’ll elevate your energy and hormone levels, which can make sleep more difficult.
Wherever possible, let these levels calm down before you climb into bed.
Need help with an exercise routine to help you sleep? Just get in touch with any of our personal trainers, and they’ll be more than happy to help.