My sleep habits suck at the best of times. I typically stay up too late, wake up groggy, and rely on caffeine to stay focused.
Now, during a pandemic? My sleep habits are appalling. I stay up later. I get up earlier. I drink more caffeine to cope. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve passed out at the kitchen table midday, halfway through drinking a “reviving” cup of tea.
Lack of Sleep Makes Us Sluggish
With the first COVID-19 shutdown here in British Columbia, I was averaging about 4 to 5 hours sleep a night. A far cry from the recommended 7 to 9.
So how did I feel?
Groggy. Irritable. Moody. Apathetic. Lethargic. My allergy symptoms got worse. I got sick more often (which is awesome during a pandemic). I packed on a few pounds. My joints ached.
Poor Sleep Affects Our Fitness
But wait. There’s more. My workouts felt more difficult. Karate training felt more difficult. I got out of breath during cardio. I couldn’t lift as much weight.
My training suffered, and my fitness suffered.
Poor Sleep Affects Our Weight
Poor sleep or lack of sleep can lead to:
- excess body fat
- difficulty gaining muscle
- poor recovery
- difficulty controlling appetite
- food cravings
I experienced all of these.
Getting Enough Sleep Feels Good
I didn’t like feeling this way, so I took action and I made sleep a priority. I made sure I got at least 7 hours a night. Some nights I got closer to 10 hours. And the more sleep I got, the better I felt. More energy, better moods, less achiness and fewer allergy symptoms.
And something else happened. After consistently sleeping well, I started to drop weight. The COVID padding started to come off. Over the course of 1.5 to 2 weeks, I dropped 5 pounds. No change in diet. No change in activity level. Just more sleep.
Sleep Provides Health Benefits
Getting enough sleep can help us with:
- fat loss
- muscle gain
- repair and recovery
- blood sugar and lipid regulation
- hormone regulation
- hunger and appetite regulation
- waste product removal
When we get enough quality sleep, we look better, we feel better, we feel happier, and we recover faster.
Make Sleep a Priority
Sleep is so important for our health and well-being. If we want to feel great and perform our best, we’d do well to prioritize getting enough high quality sleep on a regular basis.
What steps can you take to improve your sleep this week?
Here is a helpful infographic from Precision Nutrition on the importance of sleep, with some great tips on how to improve it:
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