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.

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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?

Recommended Resources

Here is a helpful infographic from Precision Nutrition on the importance of sleep, with some great tips on how to improve it:

*(This content is used under license from Precision Nutrition Inc. and may not be reproduced, transmitted, or otherwise used or reused in any way without the express written permission of the owner. Copyright © 2020 Precision Nutrition Inc. For more information about Precision Nutrition, visit www.precisionnutrition.com.)