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Sunday, April 18, 2021

A good sleep makes all the difference

Regular columnist Stephen Smith, from Merewether Fitness Studio, writes about the importance of sleep.

I love my bed, which is great because I love my sleep.

Sleep is such a vital part of every person’s overall health and well-being, but unfortunately it is often neglected.

It’s important because it enables the body to repair ready for another day and it also reboots the brain.

Getting enough sleep or rest may also help prevent excess weight gain, heart disease, and other illnesses.

On a recent episode of “Trust Me, I’m a Doctor” on SBS, a study suggested that even people who eat well can still put on excess weight because they don’t get enough sleep.

The theory put forward was that the brain detects the body is tired so it signals the gut to get as much from the food available in order to supply the body with energy.

Not everyone needs the same amount of sleep, with many differing opinions on the subject.

The majority of studies suggest that, on average, adults need between 7 to 9 hours of sleep each day.

Babies are around 14. Toddlers and young children around 12 to 13 and teenagers 8 to 10 hours.

Being a personal trainer, I wake up at 5.15am most days, so average around 7 hours a night.

As my studio is closed through the middle of the day, I have the luxury of complimenting my nightly sleep with an afternoon siesta to make sure I get 8 to 9 hours in a 24-hour period.

A little trick I use some afternoons if I don’t have much time is to have a coffee before my siesta. Yes, a coffee!

It takes around 20 to 30 minutes for caffeine to take effect, so I use this to my advantage. I have my coffee, a 15 to 20-minute snooze and ‘hey presto’, wake up re-energised, refreshed and ready to rock and roll.

I have been told I am lucky as I am a good sleeper but it’s not just luck. I do most of the right things in preparing for bed as suggested by the experts.

These include reducing screen time, blocking out light, going to bed at a similar time most nights, not eating too close to bedtime, and reducing alcohol.

There is also one other thing that I do that helps me sleep more than anything else: exercise and staying active.

The more dynamic the activity, the more dynamic the sleep. You only have to look at toddlers for proof of this. When they sleep – they sleep. When they are awake – look out!

So, if you have tried all the tricks but still don’t get a good night’s sleep, maybe you need to step up your exercise and activity levels.

You could also try one of the many sleep or mediation apps now available on smart phones. If that doesn’t work, then it may be time to talk to your GP as it’s estimated 1 in 5 Australians suffer from sleep apnoea.

So, train hard, stay active, eat well, and sleep.

As the saying goes: “A rested field yields good crops”.

Until next time,

Health & Happiness,


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