Many New Year resolutions revolve around health, fitness and happiness. We set goals to run more, eat healthier and get a gym membership. Yet, one key aspect of our personal health is often overlooked when it comes to hacking together the new, improved version of us.
I’m talking about sleep.
Sleep, or lack thereof, is a challenge for us all, especially in this ever-connected, always on, digital world we live in.
Lack of sleep is a major health risk and getting the correct amount of sleep essential for a successful New Year fitness regime.
New Year, New You
As we say here at Project AddApp; “You Know your present, now shape your future,” and that’s what many of us are trying to do with our New Years resolutions, me included.
In 2013, I ran my first half marathon, and this year I’d like to beat my time of 2hrs 11mins. During my training last year I tracked every run and paid more attention than usual to my diet, but the one thing I didn’t take into account was my sleep – this led to a feeling of sluggishness (sometimes for days) after long runs and seemingly slow muscle recovery.
Since then I’ve been paying more attention to my sleep and prioritising it in the same way I do with my diet and exercise routines. It’s made a huge difference to the way I feel after exercise and recovery times.
Sleep is your (not so) secret weapon: 5 steps to unlocking your potential
We all know we need to sleep, but often the importance of the correct amount of sleep and quality of sleep are overlooked.
Here are 5 ways to incorporate sleep into your New Years resolutions and make sure 2014 is the happiest, healthiest and most productive year of your life:
1. Make sleep a part of your training plan
When you’re training for a marathon you map out all of your runs to make sure you’re in perfect shape for the big day. But you should also make sure you allow for more sleep in order to recover from long, hard workouts.
A study by the University of Auckland found that sleep deprivation had a detrimental affect of the ability of the body to replenish muscle glycogen, leading to poorer performance and extra strain.
As you scale up your training efforts, you should also scale up your sleep.
2. Track your sleep
Sleep tracking is possible in a variety of ways; Sleep Cycle, Fitbit products (One, Flex and Force) and the Jawbone Up will all monitor your sleep by picking up your micro movements to determine whether you are awake, in light sleep, or in deep sleep.
By tracking sleep you will be able to measure not only the quantity, but quality of sleep, too. This data, when compared with other areas of your life (eating, exercise, mood), will allow you to see the correlations that are affecting your running ability, health and overall happiness.
3. Don’t put it off
I used to have times where I’d lay in bed putting off sleep for no real reason. Maybe I’d do some work on my laptop, catch a show on Netflix (that I could watch anytime) or sometimes I was just glued to my phone texting or Tweeting.
As author, David K. Randall, says; “Sleep is so easy to put off, ignore or dose with coffee that we’ve become used so used to dealing with the consequences that we may not even recognise them.
Our bodies were programmed at a time when the only light we saw was from the sun. Nowadays, we’re surrounded by artificial light from TV’s, phones, laptops and alike.
Before going to sleep take some time to disengage from technology and relax your body.
5. Find out what works for you
It’s commonly banded around that 8 hours of sleep per night is the perfect amount for us all, but we should no longer take a ‘one size fits all’ approach to sleep.
The amount of sleep you need depends on you; your routines, habits, the food you eat. Some people survive on as little as 4.5 hours sleep per day, whereas professional athletes may need 10-11 hours per day. It’s all about finding out what works for you.
After experimenting with sleep and finding out what works for me, I can now get my head down at night knowing that when I wake up, I’ll be ready for the day ahead.
Do you track your sleep? Do you think it’s something you’d like to try? I’d love to hear from you!