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Is lack of sleep holding you back from achieving your fitness goals?

Sleep is so important for your overall health and critical for every aspect of your life, including for muscle recovery after a tough workout! If you have ever attempted working out on little sleep, you have probably felt how lack of sleep affects your workout. People who workout on little sleep often report feeling fatigued sooner and as though they had to exert more energy to complete the same workout they did on a full night of sleep.

A good night of sleep is so important for good performance. Sleep is also needed by the body to repair and working out on no sleep means your body hasn't fully recovered from your workout or the general stress from the day before.

For all those busy women out there, including mothers and hard working professionals, getting enough sleep each night can become a huge challenge! Sometimes we need to look at creating new routines for our evenings to ensure we are getting enough rest.

The great news is that there are some simple and achievable changes that you can easily make to improve your sleep AND your overall health and see better results from your workouts!

1. Understand and measure your sleep

Try using a journal or a fitness app to document how much sleep you are getting each night. Also document how your daily workout felt after that amount of sleep. Doing this will start to show you how improving your sleep can lead to improved results during exercise.

2. Exercise regularly

Studies have shown that exercising 3-4 times each week can improve your sleep even more effectively than supplements!! These studies went on to show that high intensity workouts have the best effect on sleep.

To ensure you are getting your 3-4 workouts in per week it is a good idea to schedule them in at the start of the week, just like you would work, doctors appointments or kids sport. This way you are more likely to commit to them and see them as important appointments that cannot be pushed aside. These workouts should contain a mix of both high intensity and low intensity workouts.

3. Prepare for the next day

So many people I’ve spoken to say that they sleep better when they know that they’re ready and prepared for the next day. In the evening, take the time to look at your schedule for the next day and make sure you have everything ready to go. It is one less thing for your brain to worry about during the night!

If you have a workout planned for the next day, we suggest you lay out your workout clothes so they’re ready to put on. Get your water bottle ready to go and have all of your snacks prepared and packed for the next day too! The easier you make it for yourself, the less excuses will creep in!

4. Have an evening stretch routine

Our sedimentary lifestyle often creates tight muscles and this can have a big affect on your sleep. Before bed each night, follow a short 10 minute stretch routine to relax your muscles and your mind. Need some inspo for an evening stretch routine- here is a relaxing stretch routine you can use to calm your muscles before bed!

5. Enjoy a herbal tea

For centuries, herbal teas have been used around the world as a natural sleep remedy. There is also now a lot of research that backs herbal teas’ ability to aid sleep. Many of the herbs these teas contain, work by increasing or modifying specific neurotransmitters that are involved in initiating sleep.

Teas which have been shown to help achieve significantly better sleep quality are:

* Camomile tea

* Valerian root tea

* Lavender tea

* Lemon Balm

* Passionflower

* Magnolia bark

6. Get an early night

As you would know, a bad nights sleep can make it very hard to be productive during the day. If you’ve got kids, the need to plan for extra sleep time is even more crucial as we all know how unpredictable nights can be!

Plan ahead and schedule your day to allow you to get to bed early enough to get the sleep you need. Having enough time for sleep should fall very high up on the priority list. Getting sleep will put you at your best and most productive to tackle all of the other tasks that are on your to do list!

7. Eat magnesium-rich foods

Magnesium is one of the essential minerals that isn’t produced in the body. Magnesium is important for maintaining optimal nerve and muscle function and regulating fluid balance during exercise. It is also crucial for managing the stress response within the body.

Magnesium can be obtained from leafy vegetables, dairy, legumes and even dark chocolate but if you are having trouble sleeping through the night, ask your doctor about whether a magnesium supplement might help.

In addition to assisting with sleep, magnesium can also help with cramps during your period.

Your body’s circadian rhythm functions on a set loop which is aligned with sunrise and sunset. This is why being consistent with your sleep and waking times can aid long-term sleep quality. While initially it may be difficult to wake up an hour earlier for your exercise, once you get into this routine, keeping consistent with your workout time can actually help you get a better night sleep.

Try to get in the habit of waking up and going to bed at similar times and schedule in your exercise routine at the same time each day. While you may find it difficult to begin with, after several weeks your body will get into a rhythm and routine.

Now, as much as we can try to ALWAYS get a good nights sleep, the reality for many of us is, there are going to be some nights where this just doesn’t happen! For those nights, here are some tips to get the most out of your workout on little sleep!

Fuel your body. Proper nutrition and drinking lots of water in the morning will help you feel as energized as possible. Think oats, 2 boiled eggs, avocado or banana on toast!

  • Skip the hard stuff. The day after you’ve got very little sleep is not the day to try a heavy deadlift, squat, gruelling HIIT class! Change your workouts around and stick to lighter weights, a slower speed and maybe a stretch or pilates session.

  • Get a motivating playlist going. Have a motivational playlist ready for these days! We probably don’t want something crazy for our sore head! But something that will motivate you and push you through your workout.

  • Cut it short. Keep your workout to 30 minutes on a day when you’ve had little sleep. Remember your body’s ability to recover will be lower and therefore it will benefit from a shorter workout.

  • Be kind to yourself. It's okay to have days when you are feeling exhausted. Don't be too hard on yourself and add more stress! Getting to the gym is half the battle, and a light workout is still very beneficial to your body and keeping it in routine. Focus on being kind and doing everything you can to get a good night’s sleep that night!

Just think about how empowered and energised you feel after getting a good sleep! It really does set you up not just for a great workout, but for a productive day. Getting a good sleep should therefore fall extremely high on our priority list. Try adjusting your and/or your families routine and see which of these ideas and suggestions works for you and your family! Remember "nothing changes if nothing changes"!

Do you have a sleep tip that works for you? Share it in the comments below!

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