According to ancient Zen masters, humans need to eat when they are hungry, and sleep when they are tired. We’ve managed to align to the first part, since most people in western cultures are overweight. However, our hectic lifestyle prevents us from sleeping as much as we need.
This has a direct influence on fitness, as many of us are too tired or too busy to stick to a regular workout routine.
Benefits of Getting Enough Sleep Each Night
One of the main reasons why everybody should get regular exercise is to be healthy, energetic and well-rested, and this is impossible in the absence of sleep. This is a fairly simple concept, just like all other teachings of Zen Masters. Science agrees that the proper amount of high quality sleep provides us some important health benefits:
- Proper metabolism of carbohydrates;
- Maintenance of correct levels of leptin and growth hormones, with influence on maintaining the proper blood pressure and insulin resistance;
- Decreased anxiety and stress levels, with direct implications in maintaining a positive attitude.
How Does Sleep Effect Your Fitness Efforts?
Most people give up their fitness routines within their first 20 days of regular exercising. Their motivation for keeping up the good lifestyle vanishes when they can’t adopt a healthy sleeping pattern. When you don’t get enough sleep, it’s almost impossible to stay motivated to stick to a strict exercise routine. As a matter of fact, lack of time and tiredness are the main excuses for not getting enough exercise.
Many people accuse both, the result being they have a hard time living by Zen teachings.
Not having enough time is nothing else but a matter of priorities. When someone feels exhausted after a hard day at work, it’s easy to give up exercising due to having “no time”. Soreness and stiffness make these people feel less productive, thus determining them to work longer, in order to make up for the time spent exercising.
On the contrary, when someone is well rested, exercise makes them feel even better, due to the naturally occurring “endorphin high”. You get an enhanced sense of well-being which makes the “no time” excuse fade away.
Most humans need about 7 hours of quality sleep to be good in their life. Today’s hectic lifestyle prevents most of us from achieving this. Some people even give up more of their sleep, only to make room for fitness in their busy schedule. This approach proves to be wrong, as it does nothing else but adding even more to an already busy schedule.
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Making a fitness routine stick is the biggest challenge. If you have this problem, you can start by tracking both your sleep and your exercise time as being parts of your fitness program. For instance, you can make room for “8 hours of fitness” in your daily schedule, and use part of it for sleeping and the rest for working out, jogging or playing your favorite sports.
Track your sleep hours with the same accuracy you use for tracking your mileage covered or the weights you use. If you use a personal trainer, let them know about this reporting method.
Tips for Improving Your Nightly Sleep
There are numerous things you can do to create better sleep that begin in the bedroom – these include:
- No electronic devices before bedtime
- No caffeine after 4pm, and take melatonin before bed
- No alcohol before bedtime
- Make sure to get plenty of exercise
- Invest in a quality mattress and memory foam pillow to aid comfort
- Breathable bed clothes
- Avoid daytime naps
- Manage stress
10 Additional Tips for Accomplishing Your Fitness Goals
Please find below ten ways to ensure the accomplishment of your fitness goals. You have to be aware that making this program stick is perhaps the most important part of this process.
- Get enough sleep, and make sure you track your sleeping time.
- Make sure your fitness goals and timelines are realistic.
- Join a community of like-minded people, in order to find motivation and support.
- Track your progress.
- Share your goals to people who matter.
- Have fun in the process – listen to music or to audio books while exercising, or pick fun sports.
- Don’t overdo it.
- Celebrate success, but not with lavish meals.
- Push your limits, and be consistent – don’t settle for three times a week, when you can do five.
- Get professional guidance – personal trainer.
The reason why you should aim for five times a week rather than three is very simple. When you only do something three times per week, you’re going to find it very hard to form a habit, as you might have to skip or knock out one of these days.
You have more chances to build a habit by aiming for five days, as even if you knock off one or two days, you’d still be left with three, which should be enough to make it work. There will be some weeks when all your five times will work out, and this is just great.
The biggest gain when choosing this route is that you don’t have to worry that much about your dietary habits. According to Roy Benson, the Nike running program training coach, “if the furnace is hot enough, anything will burn in it”.
You might still need to avoid excess, but managing your diet is going to be much easier when the sleep and exercise parts are properly managed. It all starts with the proper management of your sleep patterns.
By integrating quality sleep into your fitness program right off the bat, you can create more time for your daily activities.
As the process turns into routine, your productivity will improve. You’ll cut down the time wasted on taking multiple short breaks throughout the day. Getting enough sleep should be as important as getting enough food, so that you can live by Zen masters’ principles.