When it comes to exercising, sleep can play a huge role in how your body functions, grows and changes. Having a good night’s sleep is a crucial part of your health routine. So if you don’t have healthy sleep habits already, here are some best ways to quality time with the Sandman.

The science behind sleep

There’s some debate on how long the right length of time for an adult to sleep is. The two major theories are 8 hours each night, or five sleep cycles each night. Each sleep cycle lasts about 90 minutes, beginning with NREM (non-rapid eye movement) and ending with REM (rapid eye movement). NREM sleep is a light sleep and gradually deepens during the cycle. Each sleep cycle ends with a period of REM sleep, where activity is high, and dreaming occurs. This is when you’ll have your best, deep sleep. Either way, you should be aiming for approximately 8 hours of a good, solid sleep each night.

Why is sleep so important?

Of course we know that sleep is important for our health. Our alertness and mood are the primary things that come to mind if we’re lacking in sleep. But did you know that sleep is important for regulating the central nervous system as well as your brain function? Sleep also affects the immune system – for example, people who sleep less than five hours are nearly five times more likely to have a cold than people who sleep for seven hours a night. So, the more you sleep, the better your health.

How does sleep impact exercise?

Sleep is the time where the concentration of growth hormone (which contributes to muscle growth and repair) in the body is at its highest. So if you’ve been exercising, whether through strength training, cardio exercise, or something, it’s key to get a good night’s sleep and let your body do its job to strengthen and repair! Not to mention, a lack of sleep can affect strength and power, energy stores, and increase your risk of injury.

How can I get better sleep?

We’ve done our research, and found these to be the best ways to get a better night’s sleep. Why not test these out yourself tonight, and see if you get a better night’s sleep?

  • Avoid stimulants after lunch, like coffee or pre-workout drinks
  • Avoid drinking any fluids during the hour before you go to bed
  • Practice a relaxing routine before bed. Think of it this way: we give our kids a bedtime routine to calm them down and get them ready for a good night’s sleep, so why shouldn’t we do this for ourselves, too?
  • Shut off your screens an hour before bed
  • Turn your thermostat down to a cool and comfortable temperate
  • Try to maintain a consistent time for when you go to sleep and when you wake up
  • If you’re having trouble falling asleep, try following a guided meditation on Youtube or the Calm app.