Most of us want it more, but so many of us just aren’t getting enough. So where do you sit on the sleep quality scale?
New research from Australia’s Sleep Health Foundation reveals that 33 to 45% of Australian adults suffer from inadequate sleep (of either quality or duration). What impact does this have on our health and wellbeing? And does inadequate sleep affect our ability to exercise and improve fitness?
Sleep and related health problems
The Sleep Health Foundation says sleep is a fundamental biological requirement for human health. Specific sleep disorders have also been linked to a variety of health problems and chronic diseases including coronary heart disease, stroke, atrial fibrillation, diabetes and more. It seems pretty obvious that getting some good quality zzzzzz’s should be high on your evening agenda.
Does sleep affect your ability to workout and improve your fitness?
The short answer is yes. Movement and wellness specialist Priscilla Flynn of In2great Fitness says she can tell when a client hasn’t been sleeping well.
“We train with heart rate monitors which gives us the ability to check in with how well our clients are coping with the stress of the workout,'' she says.
''On days with poor sleep, heart rate efficiency will be compromised and clients will tend to struggle to increase heart rate intensity, or their intensity stays high and they can’t recover.''
Priscilla adds that if we don’t sleep well we are more prone to weight gain, cravings, mood disorders, overeating, pain, and a general lack of wellness.
Sleep or exercise – what’s more important?
You can’t really have one without the other and Priscilla says it’s important to consider a person’s metabolic reserve – basically how much gas is in the tank.
“Good sleep quality will increase a person’s metabolic reserve, making them more resilient to stress of any kind. In terms of training, having a good sleep means you can train longer, or more intensely, before you get depleted,” she says.
“A lack of sleep decreases metabolic reserve which means the person has a reduced capacity to cope with additional stress. This means they have a reduced capacity to train optimally, and therefore a reduced ability to get the results they seek”.
If you’re really exhausted, it’s better to modify your workout and listen to your body.
“A light intensity 10-minute quality movement session, some fascial release (using things like trigger point balls and foam rollers) or basic mobility drills, might be all you need to improve your energy and have an even better sleep to prime yourself for the next day,” Priscilla says.
Shift workers and new parents – this bit is for you!
Priscilla says if you fall into a category where it’s hard to maintain regular sleeping patterns, it’s even more important to take extra care to enhance recovery.
“If sleep routine is a challenge, it’s super important to find alternative ways to give your body extra recovery help through your day. This may mean breath work, meditation, light movement or fascial release,” she said.
If you’d like to learn more about shift work and sleeping, click here.
Tips for a better night’s sleep
The Sleep Health Foundation suggest the following tips for a better night’s sleep:
- Have a regular sleep pattern – go to bed and get up at the same time every day (when you can)
- Spend the right amount of time in bed (usually about eight hours for adults, more for children)
- Beds are for sleeping – avoid screen time before bedtime
- Wind down and relax before going to bed and don’t exercise too close to bed time
- Sleep in a comfortable room that’s cool and dark
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol and cigarettes
- Avoid daytime naps
- Don’t lie awake watching a clock - turn bright alarm clocks around and avoid checking the time
- Avoid sleeping pills (except in exceptional circumstances)
- Seek professional help if you need it.
Learn more about sleeping well and read more about Priscilla Flynn and In2great Fitness here.