Sleep is so important.

In fact, sleep is so important, I’m writing this post from my bed right now. Because, once I’m done, it’s bedtime for your girl… and it’s noon.

On your fitness journey, you’ll encounter lots of information about food, and even more information about exercise…but none about sleep! (And I’m guilty of it too, mainly because when you live in the city that never sleeps and you’re raising the family that never ever goes to bed on time… you get used to stealing your naps when you can!) Why?

We live in days and times when we can’t fit everything we want and need to do into a 24 hour period. We fight to wake up to get to work on time, get our kids to school, get our partners to their jobs, get to class, get to the gym, get to appointments, get work done, get dinner, get bathed and brushed….and, before we know it, there’s five hours left for sleep before we’re expected to do it all over again. That’s rough.

That’s also why, in partnership with Kohl’s, I want to talk a little bit about why it might be time to #MakeYourMove towards those lovely pillows and that lovely blanket! Yes! I’m telling you that, if your goal is to lose weight and live healthier, you need to go to sleep! I am sending you to bed. Go. Now. And here’s why:

1) When you’re tired, what’s the first thing you run to in order to stay awake? Sugar. When you feel yourself yawning at your desk, what’s usually nearby? Sugar. We give ourselves a tiny bit of the sweet stuff, because we know it’ll at least give us just enough of a sugar rush to…..get us through the next fifteen minutes. And, because we’re bound to crash fifteen minutes later, what do we do? We get a little more. Many people with “sodapop addictions” – in quotation marks because that’s what people call it, not because I’m mocking it – have said addiction because the cycle is instantly gratifying: they get tired, they seek out the item to rectify the problem, the problem is rectified, they’re happy, they crash from the sugar rush….and they consume again.

bgg2wl-sleep-get-fit

But how many calories are you packing on in the process, though?

More importantly, how many grams of sugar are you consuming?

Get enough sleep at night, and get enough fresh produce in your diet during the day, and chances are quite high that your body will stop feeling like it needs to force you to conk out in the middle of the day.

2) Lack of sleep traditionally impairs a person’s ability to make better decisions.

The scientists showed, using a functional MRI, that a night of sleep deprivation leads to increased brain activity in brain regions that assess positive outcomes, while at the same time this deprivation leads to decreased activation in the brain areas that process negative outcomes.

Sleep-deprived individuals in the study tended to make choices that emphasized monetary gain, and were less likely to make choices that reduced loss. While this wasn’t true for all of the subjects, the findings are worth heeding.

It has been shown that lack of adequate sleep impairs our ability to make decisions, but this has often been attributed to sleep deprivation’s effects on attention and memory, and the inability to integrate feedback in an effective manner.

This is the first study to show that sleep deprivation can change the way the brain assesses economic value, independent of its effects on vigilant attention.

The study also demonstrates that sleep deprivation increases sensitivity to positive rewards while diminishing sensitivity to negative consequences. [source]

In other words, your sleep habits greatly impair your ability to assess the pros and cons of your nutritional choices during the day, and leave you far more inclined to make the worst choices… all because your body’s natural habit is to stick with what’s familiar (ergo, the choice that leaves you worse off) instead of what’s better for you (like the healthier option.)

3) Sleep is your prime opportunity for your training body to rest. You’re not walking, you’re not running, you’re not focusing on alternate work, you’re not moving your arms to type or hug or cook or change the channel. You’re lying still. And this is when the body can focus and do the magic of restorative repair. From the National Sleep Foundation:

To get the most out of our sleep, both quantity and quality are important. Teens need at least 8½ hours—and on average 9¼ hours—a night of uninterrupted sleep to leave their bodies and minds rejuvenated for the next day. If sleep is cut short, the body doesn’t have time to complete all of the phases needed for muscle repair, memory consolidation and release of hormones regulating growth and appetite. Then we wake up less prepared to concentrate, make decisions, or engage fully in school and social activities. [source]

You fatigue yourself in any number of ways throughout the day. Your sleepy time is when you actually can rebuild your stores of energy, do most of the work of muscle repair, and neutralize your hormone levels in a way that leaves you ready to start the day.

So, that leaves me with one last question: why are you still awake?

Go to bed!

Wait – what can you use to earn yourself a restful sleep?

I’m a big believer in a fully resting body. That means, no part of your body should be straining to rest. So, if you have broad shoulders with a tendency to lay on your side, I bet you wake up with neck pain; if you sleep on your side and have thinner thighs with wide hips, I bet you wake up with hip and back pain. If you have a very round posterior and a tiny waist, chances are high you wake up with pain somewhere in your core.

How do you fix this? Pillows! You need a pillow big and thick enough to ensure that no particular muscle group has to strain in order to rest peaceably, and that each limb and space in your body is properly supported for proper rest. A pillow like this Perfect Comfort Side Sleeper makes a world of difference at bed time.

Also, since I’m a big fan of aromatherapy, I also make use of oil diffusers in my house, where I heat scents like jasmine and lavender to keep me calm, relaxed, and ready to rest.

And, as always, nothing brings me closer to relaxation, ready for sleep, like spending a little time on my yoga mat. A nice, thick mat that’s easy on the knees can do a world of good for the body – brings down the stress levels, helps you physically decompress, and nothing gets you ready for sleepy time like a proper savasana.

Soooooo…..do one and go to bed!

Oh, before you go to bed – would you care to pin this graphic for me?

bgg2wl-lack-of-sleep

This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of Kohl’s.