Whether your health goal is to increase your strength, lose weight, or simply to tone up a little, you will need to include the three pillars of a healthy work out routine to see results. Those are diet, exercise, and recovery. You may have already heard that “you can’t outrun a bad diet”, however, let’s add “you can’t work out effectively without being fully rested” to the equation.

Recovery is an extremely important part of your workout routine, as it allows your muscles time to recuperate from the small tears caused through weight lifting, and the lactic acid build up of cardio. Having a rest day is a good way of ensuring your body has recovered. However, if you find that on that rest day, or through the rest of the week, that you aren’t getting enough sleep, you may find you are heading for an unexpected injury.

Sleep is an essential part of recovery, as it is when our body does the most repairing. A lack of rest equals in a lack of repair. Here are a few tips on how you can relax for the night, and have a well-rested, good night’s sleep, ready to hit your work out hard the following morning.

Unwind

In this digital age, it is difficult to sometimes switch off and wind down ready to drift off to sleep. If you find you are on your electronics until your eyes can barely stay open, you are hindering your sleep and are in for a restless night. By staying on Facebook until you fall asleep, your brain stays active, and you may find you are having vivid dreams and nightmares or waking up every five minutes with an “I must do this” thought. Rather than winding down by scrolling through your twitter feed, try practicing some self-care.

Have a warm shower or bath and climb into bed with a good book around an hour before you should be asleep. Many people even meditate to help regulate their thoughts and help them to zone out from the world a little easier. Whatever method of unwinding works for you, it will allow you to switch off and drift off into a natural, peaceful sleep, rather than a meme induced one.

Time

Now, the time in which you get into bed is also important. It is commonly said that “an hour before midnight feels like two”, and it is really down to the fact you are more likely to get eight hours of good, deep sleep when going to bed at a decent time. Of course, you can’t just get into bed and expect to fall straight asleep, so make sure you are setting an alarm that tells you that this is the time to start your unwind routine.

That way, time will not escape you, and you will get into a good routine. As well as going to bed the same time every night, try getting up at the same time every morning. Although a lie in is always tempting, this will help to get your body clock in gear, so even if one night you forget to set your alarm, your body will naturally fall asleep and wake up and the same time. It’s like training, but for your sleep cycle.

Bed

No matter how much you unwind, if you have a low quality, uncomfortable bed, there is no way you will be getting a good night’s sleep. Those aches and pains you feel may not be coming from your intense workouts, but from the bed you are sleeping on. If you haven’t replaced your mattress in a while, and are constantly waking up with a crick in your neck, it is time to reevaluate your sleeping situation. You need a comfortable mattress that is both supportive and soft.

Usually, mattresses are either firm and supportive, or soft and of no use to your spine. Gel mattresses provide the best of both worlds and are cooling, so you don’t overheat in the night. Unlike a memory foam mattress which tends to be too hot in the summer, and not warm enough in the winter. Investing in a new mattress is directly investing in your fitness program, and once you experience a really good night’s sleep, you will realize how invaluable the rest is to your health goals.

Hopefully, these tips have helped you to realize the importance of good quality rest when it comes to your health and fitness goals. You need to rest hard in order to train hard.

 

By Erica Buteau

Change Agent. Daydream Believer. Maker. Creative. Likes love, peace and Jeeping. Dislikes winter, paper cuts and war. She/Her/Hers.

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