I get it we are all busy and try to cram as much as we possibly can into our days, I must admit I am guilty for it too, and prioritising my sleep has not always been on the agenda. BUT now things must change and we must work together to try and get more zzzz's in our week. If lockdown taught me anything it was that sleeping is so important and without functioning to my full potential is not going to happen!
Sleep is so important for so many things and without much of it it can impact your stress levels, it can increase your hunger (which isn't ideal for fat loss), it can effect your muscle growth (aka "your tone"), and can even effect your libido and sex drive!
According to the National Sleep Foundation we should be getting at least 7-9 hours sleep every night, and in not doing so can effect what I just mentioned above.
As a health and fitness professional who helps most people with fat loss, having less than 7 hours sleep is usually a huge contributing factor as to why the client does not get the results, and its not because they haven't had enough sleep and its magically stopping their body to burn fat, it's actually because a lack of sleep increases your hunger hormone, and can even cause people to find themselves binge eating.
Tiredness can lead to destruction in the kitchen, when you are tired you are more likely to make poorer food choices and this can also lead to a binge. Some of us tend to think that if we eat more we will magically gain more energy, and yes you are consuming energy, but thats not to say that it's going to help you get through your next 2 hours of work.
If you are someone who doesn't get the best of sleeps most nights, then try some of these tips :
Less screen time : Especially if you spend most of the day in front of a computer screen, avoid the bright lights in the evening so you don't risk messing up your circadian rhythm. "Circadian rhythm is also known as your sleep/wake cycle or body clock, and is a natural, internal system that's designed to regulate feelings of sleepiness and wakefulness over a 24-hour period." ("National Sleep Foundation"2020)
Avoid alcohol and cigarettes 3-4 hours before bed: These are stimulants which can disrupt your sleep, your body will spend more time in sedation rather than actual sleep, thus effecting your bodies natural sleep cycle.
No caffeine after 2pm: Caffeine by all means is not detrimental to our health, studies actually show that it is great for enhancing performance in athletes and exercise performance, however timing your last caffeine intake should be 12 hours before you go to bed/sleep so that it is not disrupted. Caffeine effects people differently and because of it been a stimulant it can disrupt your sleep pattern, according to the "National Sleep Foundation" (2020), it takes about 6 hours for one half of the caffeine to be eliminated from your system, so try keep your daily coffee's to the morning to avoid this from happening.
Set yourself a night time routine: Set yourself some calming activities in the evening to help yourself wind down, such as a lavender bath, reading, stretching or even yoga and meditation.
Read for 20 minutes before you go to sleep: Reading can help you to fall asleep and well as calm and wind down for the evening. It also just helps you to relax and take your mind away from stressful tasks.
Set an alarm one hour before your proposed bedtime : This has been a game changer for me and some of my clients too, having an alarm set to remind you to get ready for bed and start your night time routine holds you more accountable to getting to bed at the time you need in order to get your 7-9 hours.
In conclusion we all need to try make a conscious effort to try and get some more zzzzz's, my recommendation is to start a sleep journal and start by making small changes. Don't try and do all of the above straight away if you never do any of them. Start by doing 1 or 2 things a couple nights a week and gradually add them into your lifestyle so they become regular habits!
Now I know for new mums this is not always possible, but don't worry what you are going through is a normal stage of life and I promise you, you will eventually get back into a good sleep routine and pattern, just hang in there, I feel you!
Caffeine and sleep.(2020). SleepFoundation.org. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/caffeine-and-sleep
Healthy sleep tips(2020). SleepFoundation.org. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/healthy-sleep-tips
Circadian Rhythm and Your Body Clock. (2020) . SleepFoundation.org. https://www.sleep.org/articles/circadian-rhythm-body-clock/