Updated: Nov 16, 2020
Healthy sleeping habits can make a huge difference to the quality of your life, your general wellbeing and help impact our fitness and weight loss goals. In this blog I will be going through a few reasons why you might be struggling to sleep at night, tips to help overcome insomnia and the impact it has on your body and your fitness goals.
Why can't I sleep?
Do you struggle to get to sleep no matter how tired you are? Or do you wake up in the middle of the night and lie awake for hours, anxiously watching the clock? Insomnia is the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep at night, resulting in unrefreshing or non-restorative sleep. And it’s a very common problem, one that takes a toll on your energy, mood, and ability to function during the day. Chronic insomnia can even contribute to serious health problems.
Because different people need different amounts of sleep, insomnia is defined by the quality of your sleep and how you feel after sleeping - not the number of hours you sleep or how quickly you doze off. Even if you’re spending eight hours a night in bed, if you feel drowsy and fatigued during the day, you may be experiencing insomnia.
Although insomnia is the most common sleep complaint, it is not a single sleep disorder. It’s more accurate to think of insomnia as a symptom of another problem. The problem causing the insomnia differs from person to person. It could be something as simple as drinking too much caffeine during the day or a more complex issue like an underlying medical condition or feeling overloaded with responsibilities.
The good news is that most cases of insomnia can be cured with changes you can make on your own - without relying on sleep specialists or turning to prescription or over-the-counter sleeping pills. By addressing the underlying causes and making simple changes to your daily habits and sleep environment, you can put a stop to the frustration of insomnia and finally get a good night’s sleep.
What impact can a good sleeping pattern have on my body?
The impact of a good sleeping pattern goes beyond feeling more alert and a better mode during the day. The quality of your sleep also effects your workouts and fitness goals, here is a few examples of how this can affect your fitness goals;
Weight Loss. Sleep deprivation is similar to being drunk, you don't have the mental clarity to make the right decisions and are more likely to reach for a meal stacked in high in sugar and saturated fats to help boost your energy levels and/or a bigger portion. Quality sleep and eating healthier can help you achieve your weight loss goals quicker, provide you with more energy throughout the day with nutrient rich meals and also help improve your overall sleep with less sugar and lighter meals.
Workouts. A quality sleeping pattern can help improve your energy levels, focus and alertness that can help push yourself further and help see results faster!
Muscle Mass and Recovery. Sleep is crucial for muscle growth and repair after a strenuous workout. The higher the body muscle percentage the leaner the look with less body fat.
How can I overcome insomnia?
Unfortunately there is no definitive answer to provide that will help overcome your insomnia, however there are a few things we can do to help get a better nights sleep. Here is my top 5 tips to help overcome insomnia -
Find yourself a sleeping routine - This helps regulate your body clock and could help fall asleep and stay asleep for the night. Try using sleep trackers such as FitBit to get a better understanding of your how long you are sleeping and the quality of your sleep.
Exercise - Exercise is proven to help reduce stress, promote a healthier mindset by a release of endorphins and will also provide a higher daily energy expenditure. A variety of exercises can be performed to help including weight training, walking, running, cycling, swimming and yoga.
Remove electronics - It is proven that using electronics before bed stimulates the brain, this surpasses the release of a sleep induced hormone called Melatonin, this can make going to sleep more difficult. Try avoiding all electronics a few hours before you go bed or switch on a night mode to reduce the blue light function.
Cut alcohol, tobacco and heavy meals in the evening - Alcohol, cigarettes and caffeine can make going to sleep more difficult or disrupt your sleep. Eating heavy before going sleep can cause discomfort from indigestion that can make it harder to fall sleep. Try reducing or removing the amount of alcohol, cigarettes and caffeine a few hours before you go to bed and aim to have a light snack before you go to bed if you are still hungry.
Try meditation - The deep relaxation techniques has been shown to increase sleep time, improve sleep quality and make it easier to fall and/or stay asleep.
Supplements to take before I go to bed.
Here is my two recommended supplements to have before you go to sleep to help give you a better nights sleep;
Melatonin. Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that your body produces at night. Melatonin helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle. Melatonin is also available as an over-the-counter supplement. While melatonin doesn’t work for everyone, it may be an effective insomnia treatment for you - especially if you’re an extreme “night owl” with a natural tendency to go to bed and get up much later than others.
Casein Protein. Casein Protein is a slow-digesting dairy protein that people often take as a supplement. It releases amino acids slowly, so people often take it before bed to help with recovery and reduce muscle breakdown while they sleep. Several studies have shown it helps boost muscle growth, along with a ton of other benefits.
Comment below to let us know if our tips have helped you achieve a better nights sleep or if you can feel a difference with your fitness goals now the quality of your sleep has improved.