We all know that eating well and exercising regularly are key to looking good and feeling great, yet a crucial element that’s often overlooked is getting enough quality sleep. We spend roughly a third of our lives tucked up in bed but when it comes to keeping fit we often don’t consider how much sleep can impact our performance.
Each night, sleep helps to repair the body, rebuild muscles and rest the brain ready for the day ahead. If the quality of sleep is poor, performance is drastically affected. Just like calories fuel our body, sleep provides energy so we can perform at our best and accommodate the extra strain that is put on the body and muscles.
As sleep is becoming more and more important in the lifestyles of people of all levels of fitness, the industries associated with sleep are also having to adapt, especially the mattress industry.
One company that is leading the charge in promoting better sleep for all, is Leesa, the online mattress company. It’s unique design of mattress has three layers of foam that work together to adapt to each individual’s body and provide optimum support, comfort and pressure relief.
Rachel Holmes and Em Sheldon, two successful fitness experts, have teamed up with Leesa to help spread the message of sleeping well to perform well and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Fitness entrepreneur and director of Kick Start Fat Loss, Rachel Holmes, is an expert in women’s health and wellbeing. For her, sleep is the first area she visits before starting any type of health and fitness plan. She explains: “If you’re not getting enough sleep consistently, then you are sleep deprived – this has a huge impact on your hormone levels. It affects your thyroids, your adrenal glands which in turn affects your appetite, your mood, how you think and how you feel.”
Before embarking on any fitness journey, Rachel encourages people to commit to a consistent sleep routine by following her six top tips:
-Go to bed at the same time every night – make it a priority and stick to it even if you don’t feel tired.
-The hour before you go to bed, set aside time to do things that relax you. Reading fiction, meditating or (her personal favourite) filling out a journal of what you’re grateful for that day can all be helpful to clear your mind and get your body ready for sleep.
-Switch off your mobile phone or put it into airplane mode. Turn off computers, screens and standby TVs at least one hour before you go to bed. The blue light omitted from these devices will prevent the brain from completely “powering down”.
-Stay away from grains and refined sugar snacks before bed. The reason why they ruin sleep is they raise blood sugar and create a reactive hypoglycaemia that awakens you and makes it impossible to fall asleep again.
-Sleep in complete darkness or as close as possible. Even the tiniest bit of light in the room can mess up your sleep quality.
-Stretch in the evening – this is an excellent way to bring down an overly excited nervous system. This will also help relax you and prepare you for a good sleep
Em Sheldon, from the popular lifestyle blog Em Talks, is also aware that sleep plays a vital role in her health and fitness, as well as impacting her normal day-to-day activities too.
Talking about the importance of getting enough sleep, Em says: “If I wake up and still feel asleep, I can’t go to the gym or even really function throughout the day! Sometimes I wake up late, rush to a spin class and genuinely feel like I’m asleep on the bike – even if I want to push myself really hard I just can’t perform well.”
Em advocates implementing a daily routine and sticking to it – her schedule begins with a morning spin class, followed by work and then making sure she goes to bed at the same time every night.
“If I’ve had enough sleep, I’m genuinely in a better mood – I eat better and I can focus more. I also find the lack of sleep affects my skin!”
What else can you do?
The key to getting a good night’s sleep also relies on researching and understanding what you bed down on.
A survey conducted earlier this year by Leesa identified that on average, consumers in the UK spent more time researching the purchase of a washing machine or television than they did their mattress.
A contributory factor to the comparatively short consideration period for mattresses, is the ‘status quo’ belief that you can decide which mattress is right for you based on five minutes laying on it in a brightly lit bed store.
Richard Tucker, Managing Director of Leesa Sleep UK explains “Trying a mattress for five minutes in a mattress store gives no indication of how well you’re going to sleep on it. That’s why we offer a 100 night risk free trial, to give people the opportunity to experience how the Leesa mattress can help improve their sleep in their own home”
The Leesa mattress is available exclusively online, with free UK delivery. The Leesa mattress has been independently tested and approved by the Good Housekeeping Institute, and one mattress is donated to shelters for homeless and vulnerable people for every ten sold, via the company’s One-Ten programme.