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“Fitness Over 40” – Sleep

What about Sleep?

“I don’t sleep more than 5 hours a night”
“Ill sleep when I’m Dead”
“My sleep is broken up”
“I get up every night”
“I sleep 8 hours a night!” (Sweet)

Can you relate to any of these statements? Maybe fill your own in… But most of us do not get good consistent sleep. (I do, but I’ll get to how I did that later)

Why is Sleep so important? Better yet, why is the “6-8 Hours” of “unbroken” sleep seems to be the norm that’s always recommended? Simple, it’s when you recover and restore. 

When we were in our 20’s and even into our 30’s we could “get away with” less sleep, and not really feel the negative effects, immediately that is….But even then, inconsistent sleep would wear on us and our cognitive abilities would be diminished. Especially if that sleep was related to alcohol consumption…

So how important is consistent sleep? Well, it’s almost as important as water and food, neither of which we can go for very long without and not see very negative consequences. Sleep is the same, if we rack up a few days of poor sleep, we begin to feel and see the consequences of deprivation. 

Cranky, snappy, lack of patience, decreased appetite, cognitive decline, slower reflexes, are just some of the immediate side effects of sleep inconsistencies.

Long term effects are more challenging to see, but we can begin to see decreased muscle tone, early onset of aging, forgetfulness, injuries, elevated cortisol, achy joints, constant fatigue, decreased overall health, etc…

Can we “catch up” on sleep? NO, it doesn’t work that way. That’s like saying I wont brush my teeth all week, Ill do it for an hour on Friday… That would hurt! 

If you struggle with getting to sleep, I recommend turning off electronics and screen devices 30-45 minutes prior to and meditation for 1-3 minutes before going to bed. No electronics or distractions. Think about a calm place.

If you struggle with staying asleep, (i.e. mind is racing) Option 1 can be very effective. But if you are getting up to go to the bathroom, you might want to stop drinking all fluids about 2-3 hours before bed. 

Ideally we want to have an empty stomach when we go to bed, if you are digesting food, your body is working on that and not recovering. This could disrupt that sleep for a few hours and you may wake up feeling groggy even though you got the necessary sleep time.

What about alcohol? Alcohol before bed is very bad, I know, “it relaxes me”. But unfortunately your body doesn’t get into REM and the deep restorative sleep necessary for recovery. Every once in a while is ok, but daily, not so good.

The goal here is Consistency! 

  1. Pick a time to go to sleep and stick to it.
  2. Meditate before bed (60-90 sec)
  3. Turn off all screens 30 minutes before.
  4. No food or water 2-3hours before.
  5. Cool space, under 68 degrees
  6. White noise can be helpful.
  7. Prayer (goes along with meditation)

Written By Steve G

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