The Importance of Sleep & Stress Levels

We are seeing a shift in the fitness industry of late, and a welcome one at that. People are now beginning to focus on health and well-being over low body fat, fad diets, and hectic training regimes.

 

Two underrated aspects of weight loss, health and well-being are sleep and stress, they play a massive part in our overall condition.

The 3 golden rules that come into consideration when it comes to losing weight are what we eat, how much we eat and how much we move.  If these 3 elements are understood then it's easy to maintain a healthy weight. But other reasons such as hormones, sleep & stress are not to be overlooked and if not paid attention to can slow you down.

So lets talk about sleep and stress. These two tend to go hand-in-hand. When we're stressed it more often then not effects our sleep; how many times have you laid awake at night worrying about something? I am sure plenty of nights, as that is life sometimes, but it has serious knock on effect.
The day after not sleeping properly you wake up exhausted, when we are tired we tend to make poorer food choices, opting for higher sugar content foods looking for that boost, or convenience foods as you're too tired to prepare something healthy. These cycle can carry out through the day. Your daily activity is likely reduced as well. You feel exhausted so exercise of any form is more then likely the last thing on your mind.

So your stress has caused the lack of sleep, the lack of sleep has caused poorer lifestyle choices which then in turn stresses you out more. Its a never ending cycle that drains the body mentally and physically. Being constantly stressed not only can effect your weight but also lead to other serious health complications such as high blood pressure, heart problems, stomach issues as well as fertility and sex drive. It can be quiet alarming what happens to our body when in a permanent state of stress.

So what can we do ?

Exercise

First off we need to bring those stress levels and the best way to do that is go and do some exercise. It may be the last thing you want to do but you won't regret it and you'll feel amazing after. How often have you said 'I wish I didn't do that exercise?' Probably never! So weather its heading to the gym, or working out from home or going for a long walk just get the body moving!

Time out

Learn to take some time out away from daily stressors. Do a relaxing yoga class, go for a massage or just go sit in a corner and read a book. Learn to be selfish with your time - you don't have to give it all away to work or family. By getting a bit of alone-time it will give you an even more positive frame of mind when you do spend quality time with your loved ones.

Food

As mentioned earlier it's so easy to make poorer food choices when tired or stressed. To help with this have good food on hand and accessible. Filling your body with nutritious (and tasty!) food will most certainly help you feel better than when you reach for sugar-laden convenience snacks. It does not have to be complicated food choices either -  a whole grain chicken sambo, greek yogurt and fruit or even just a banana can keep you going during your work day, allowing you to continue it on when you get home before enjoying a healthy dinner. A small bit of preparation really does go along way in this department.

Sleep

Once you can get a handle on what's stressing you and how to manage it better your sleep in turn should improve, aim to get between 7 - 8 hours of sleep at night. For a quality nights sleeps try the following tips.

  • Turn off or silence your phone an hour before bed. Even better, leave it outside the room!
  • Plan your day for the following day so you are not laying awake thinking of what you have to do the next day.
  • Have a routine for your sleep so try and go to bed the same time every night and wake up the same time everyday.
  • Spending time outdoors during the day is proven to help with sleep quality so get outside and even better try exercising outdoors and get your daily activity in that way.

When you can get your stress and sleep levels in check you will find it so much easier reach weightloss, health and fitness goals. So rest and relaxation guys!

Aoife is a Foods For Fitness Ambassador and founder of Pixie Fitness. She is a fitness and well-being consultant who loves exercising, nutrition and her family! Follow her journey at www.pixiefitnessdublin.ie or on Instagram here

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