It's Sunita here.
There's an obvious, sharp increase in the number of new faces that show up to exercise at my gym these days. I hear an advertisement for a fitness center or diet plan every time I turn on the TV or radio, or glance through a newspaper or magazine.
It was no different last January. Or the year before that.
The start of a new year is a great opportunity to reset our life and being physically active is an essential part of a wellness and longevity program. But what gets left out is the fact that without getting restful and adequate amounts of sleep on a regular basis, we are unable to maximize the benefits of exercise. Or, stick to our program. Why?
Because sleep has a powerful effect on our ability to make decisions.
Our wellness depends on many dimensions of Self Care. But the common denominator for all of these dimensions is the same- the need for mindfulness. And 'mindfulness' is really just another word for 'healthy/smart decision making'.
A chronic lack of sleep prompts us to make decisions that are not in our best interest.
Determination alone is not enough to be able to change unhealthy habits to healthy ones. Science proves that. And the yearly whittling away of crowds at my gym by March is evidence of that fact.
Another powerful example demonstrating this fact are our eating habits. Those who are don't get quality, restorative sleep are shown to eat an extra 350 calories every day, without any increase in demands for energy. So when we are not sleeping well, we are gaining weight. 3500 calories that are not required add 1 pound of body fat. So, if you are chronically sleep deprived, you are gaining weight, which in turn causes you to sleep poorly. This cycle continues with disastrous results.
So if you are serious about living your best life, then start with prioritizing your sleep.
There is a slow, but steady change in our culture related to our beliefs about sleep. Sleeping your way to the top now means literally 'sleeping' your way to success. The average amount of sleep that we need to function optimally as adults has been determined to be 7-8 hours every night.
To see if you are getting enough sleep, ask yourself these simple questions;
Do you wake up refreshed? (No)
Do you experience excessive daytime sleepiness/fatigue? (Yes)
Do you experience mental fogginess or have difficulty making decisions? (Yes)
How much sleep are you getting every night? (less than 7 hours)
If you have answered any of the questions as shown above, then here are some follow up questions for you to ask yourself.
Do you routinely give yourself an opportunity to sleep for 8 hours a night?
Do you plan/schedule your day around your sleep requirement?
Would you leave a party or an activity earlier than others there, to come back home so you could sleep at your regular bedtime?
Do you have a consistency to your bed time and awakening time?
Do you feel that you are unable to make consistent healthy food choices and/or have difficulty sticking to an exercise regimen?
Like anything else that is important to us, sleep requires prioritization. Getting enough sleep requires planning like any important event does. Only a deliberate emphasis on maintaining a consistency of our bed time and sleep time will allow us the opportunity to get the required 7-8 hours of sleep.
That will allow you to make the decisions that will help you live the life you dream of. So, go ahead and make sleep your number one priority. And 'sleep' your way to success!
Wishing you a week of healthy decisions!
Sleep well, Be well, Do well, Live well