Everything you do affects your body’s ability to perform at peak efficiency including getting a good night’s sleep. By making sleep a priority, you set yourself up to get the most out of every workout and build muscle more efficiently.

Sleep Helps You Get Stronger and Faster

Many athletes are more than willing to push themselves harder in training by lifting more weight, running an extra lap, or fitting in another training session. While a good work ethic is crucial to building a strong body, you have to balance all that hard work with enough rest. Otherwise, all those extra hours training might start to work against you.

Training your body by lifting weights and running sprints wears down the muscle tissue. You get stronger when the body not only builds those muscles backup but builds them bigger and stronger. When does that important work take place? You guessed it–while you sleep. Adequate rest, including sleep, is necessary to further improve recovery and performance.

Sleep Helps You Make Nutritious Food Choices

Sleep also supports a well-balanced eating plan that includes the right amounts of protein, complex carbohydrates, vegetables, and fruits. Adequate sleep helps regulate everything from food cravings to your responses to those cravings. When you are sleep deprived you are more likely to make less nutritious food choices with foods higher in fat and sugar.

Depending on your age, you should be getting anywhere from seven to tens hours of sleep every night. If you’re doing heavy physical training, you may need even more for your body to keep up with the demands you’re putting on it. Studies have shown that athletes who get more rest perform better in competitive situations. All that hard work pays off when you give your body everything it needs, including nutrtion and sleep.

How to Get More Sleep

Creating the right conditions can help you not only increase the amount of time you sleep but the quality of that sleep as well. Start by making sure you have the right mattress as an old lumpy mattress might be getting in the way of the rest you need. Your sleep might also be enhanced by finding a mattress that caters to the way you sleep–side, back, or stomach. Other ways you can enhance your sleep include:

  • A quiet, cool room. Ideal sleeping temperatures range anywhere from 65-72 degrees, but some people sleep better with it even colder.

  • Dark or dim conditions. Sleeping when it’s dark helps regulate your body’s circadian rhythm. The darkness signals to your body that it’s time to sleep. Blackout curtains work well for those sensitive to any light. They also help regulate the temperature of the room.

  • Skip the e-reader. Reading a book before going to sleep is a good way to help the body and mind relax. However, the bright light of an e-reader has been shown to throw off your body’s sleep cycle by making it believe it’s time to be awake. If you want to read, try a hard copy to help your body stay on schedule.

  • Clean mattress and bedding. If you wake up stuffy, you may need to clean your mattress. Dust and skin cells can build up and interrupt your sleep by causing allergies. Wash your sheets and mattress cover regularly. Be sure to vacuum your mattress every few months.

Here’s to a good night’s sleep!

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