The Importance of an Adequate Amount of Sleep… (by Robin Gaudete, RN)

Wow, Here I am writing a fitness column and encouraging you to get more sleep!  Studies are supporting more sleep to enhance athletic performance and weight loss.  While we are not all elite athlete, most of us are so busy going about our normal business; working, housekeeping, …, chauffeuring, exercising etc. that most days we feel like we ARE an athlete.

In a recent study even a modest increase in sleep for 5 days was enough to elevate athletic performance.  Not surprisingly the study showed that fatigue, tension and sleepiness during the day decreased in participants who had approximately an extra hour of sleep.  It also showed that response time for cognitive processing was 13% faster in those with extended sleep.  When a study of dieters who decreased sleep hours over a two week period, the amount of weight loss from fat dropped by 55%, with calories staying equal.  Less sleep may disrupt metabolism and cause a slowing in weight loss or an actual weight gain.

A reminder on general guidelines for adequate sleep is 7-9 hours in a 24 hour period.  This allows for adequate physical and mental recovery and may improve cognitive tasks and reaction time.

Here are some tips for good sleep hygiene.  Make sure you receive adequate sleep if you are injured, traveling or are experiencing heavier than normal changes in our routine.  …Strive to go to bed and wake up at the same times.  Limit naps to 20 minutes or less and avoid napping in the late afternoon.  Avoid alcohol, caffeine and electronic devices before bed.  Keep the room cooler for better sleep.  Relaxation techniques, deep breathing exercises or bedtime meditation apps are helpful in inducing restful sleep faster.

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