Sponsored Post in Association with Leesa*
We all complain about being tired from time to time, but have you ever stopped to think about how your sleep is affecting your workouts, and your recovery from those workouts? I’ve teamed up with mattress company Leesa to share with you all how vital your sleep is for your health and fitness and, more importantly, how to improve your own sleep patterns.
During exercise, the body not only uses up its fluid and energy stores, it also breaks down muscle fibres throughout (oh that familiar DOMS pain). Refuelling and rehydrating are probably the first thing you think about post-workout, but do you think about how your body is going to recover overnight as well? It’s all well and good ensuring your body is replenished, but research suggests that sleep deprivation can decrease production of glycogen from carbohydrates. Glycogen storage is essential for energy production in the body, and if it’s not optimised, through lack of sleep, your post-workout nutrition becomes less beneficial.
Research also shows that lack of sleep increases your cortisol levels, the hormone linked to stress, meaning that during your activity, you could suffer from fatigue, low energy or irritability. Sleep deprivation in the long-term can also attribute to such complaints as depression, anger, confusion and mood swings.
So the solution is to get a great night’s sleep of course!! Around 8 hours is best, but talking from experience of crippling insomnia throughout my late teens and early twenties (and even sometimes now too), I know it’s not always as simple as that. I’ve learnt some techniques in my time to help me get to sleep, so I’m going to share with you my favourite sleep hacks, to help you get the best night’s sleep!
Make Your Room Your Sanctuary
Your room, and your bed, should be the most comforting place in your house. It needs to be a welcoming place where you feel calm and safe. Depending on your preference, you can go for crisp white, opulent deep shades, or like me, soft muted tones and pretty lighting. I try to keep my bedroom nice and tidy, I make my bed every morning (come on, simply pulling the covers over and straightening the sides takes literally 10 seconds) and change the bedding every week. Then, at night, I look forward to snuggling up in my little sanctuary of peace and tranquility.
Plan Your Evening
If you need to go to sleep at 11pm in order to get a solid 8 hours of shut-eye, then getting off the sofa and beginning your bed-time rituals at 10.50pm isn’t going to work. You’ve got to do the washing up, tidy away any mess from the day, get your bags ready for the next morning, remove your make-up, wash your hair maybe…all this means you won’t get near your bed until 11.30pm or later. Plan these things earlier in the evening, and make getting into your cosy bed at 11pm on the dot your priority.
Back when my insomnia was at its worst, I had a TV, DVD player, laptop, and phone all in my room. I would typically get into bed and finish some uni work, chat on MSN, check myspace (yes, I’m that old) and watch TV for another hour before actually trying to sleep. It’s no wonder that I would be awake until the early hours with my mind buzzing. I get that it’s not easy in a house share where you sometimes need to escape to your own room to watch your cheesy rom-com in peace, but these days the only thing that enters my bedroom is my phone. I use it as my alarm, but I do get annoyed with myself when I give it one last check before I turn my light off. Remove all those distractions, and ban yourself from checking your work emails/facebook/instagram after a certain time in the evening if you’re likely to over-think what you’ve seen.
Write It All Down
If what’s keeping you awake is the endless train of thoughts that scurry through your mind, then try writing them all down. A diary, bullet journal, thought book, call it what you will, but writing down all those nagging thoughts, be they worrying, happy, silly or mundane, might just help to switch off your brain a little.
Stretch It Out
Now, I’m not suggesting throwing yourself into an hour-long yoga session just before bed, but some gentle stretches can be useful to unwind and prepare your body, and mind, for sleep. Try laying down with your legs up the wall, taking some gentle twists or forward folds before bed. You can even simply sit and take 10 deep breaths in bed before settling down. Yogic breathing can be helpful as the exhalation stimulates the nervous system to release and certain poses, particularly those with your head below your heart, can also help to relieve tension and relax.
With all these sleep hacks in place, it’s also important that you’re comfortable in bed! Having the right mattress can make or break your sleep. I’ve been testing out Leesa’s mattress for the last month or two and I love it. It’s supportive and firm, but equally soft and luxurious. With 5cm of cooling Avena foam on top of 5cm memory foam, it holds the body’s contours and relieves pressure without feeling too hard to sleep on. All of this on top of 15cm of durable core foam, I definitely feel a bit like the Princess and the Pea (without the actual pea of course) atop all this bedding! A good mattress definitely worth the investment. What’s great is that, with Leesa, you can try the mattress for 100 days, and if it isn’t working out, they will arrange for the mattress to be collected and donated to a charitable donation, offering you a full refund.
Saying that though, I won’t be returning mine! You can grab yourselves a cheeky £50 discount on a Leesa mattress of your own using my link!
This is a sponsored post in association with Leesa. All views my own, please see Disclaimer for more information.