The Importance Of Sleep For Overall Health And Fitness

Sleep is making news these days, with study after study showing the importance of sleep to your overall health and fitness.

And while this may seem like common sense, it is a refreshing change from the notion that has crept up over the years that sleep is lost time. I don't quite know when it became fashionable to brag about how little sleep you could get by on, but this disregard for the most basic rest and rehabilitation of our bodies has come with an awful toll.

What is the toll of sleep deprivation? Here was a short list of the destructive nature of sleep deprivation set out in an article on WebMd:

  • Performance and Daytime Alertness - just 1 1/2 hours of reduced sleep can affect alertness during the day by 32%.
  • Along with daytime alertness, sacrificing sleep can also impair your ability to think clearly and process information.
  • If your sleep problems disrupt your partner, this can cause all sorts of relationship issues.
  • If you aren't able to concentrate well due to lack of sleep, you can have not only issues at work but also at home (inability to concentrate when reading a book, patience with your children, etc.).
  • Being overly tired can also make you more prone to injury on the job due to inattentiveness.
  • Finally, being overly drowsy is a main cause of auto accidents every year, and estimates are that it is responsible for 100,000+ crashes, tens of thousands of injuries, and Fifteen hundred deaths.

For years I''ve been telling my clients that as important as regular exercise is, it is also vitally important to get a good night's sleep.

And while the experts differ on what exactly that means - whether you can exercise close to going to sleep (recent studies say you can), importance of turning off computers and other electronic devices a couple of hours before sleep, sleeping in as dark an environment as possible to stimulate release of melatonin — one thing they all agree on is that a comfortable bed can make a huge difference in the quality of sleep and how rested you feel the next day.

In my own client's experience, they've told me that adding a memory foam topper to my bed made a huge difference in the quality of their sleep. They said they don't toss and turn as much, and don't have the aches and pains they had on waking they used to have before getting a topper pad.

You might consider a topper if you feel your mattress is still firm and holding up well, but it just isn''t as comfortable as you like. The topper my clients liked and I recommend is the Healthy Foundations Memory Foam Topper Pad at healthyfoundations.com - it has a nice density so it provides a lot of cushion, is soft unlike some stiff memory foams, and really helps reduce pressure points.

But if your mattress is older (more than 7 - 10 years old), you may instead need to look at replacing your mattress. Especially since if it has developed dips or indented areas. I haven't tried Healthy Foundations' mattress, but it gets great ratings and most importantly they offer a 1 year money back trial (on the topper as well). They also provide a lot of review (over 300), so you can get a sense after reading over a few if their Memory Foam Mattress might be for you.

Just to be on the up and up, I don't get any referral fee or commission if you buy from them. The owner is a friend of mine, and I just really enjoy his product and also his way of doing business and offer a longer money back trial than anyone in the business.

If you are having trouble sleeping, think about your mattress and perhaps adding a topper. Other options I talk with people about is trying to wind down at night before going to sleep. Perhaps by doing some meditation, having a nice, hot bath, or reading a book. If you can stay off electronic devices for a couple of hours before sleep see if that also helps you. In terms of supplements, some people have had some luck with melatonin, but please talk with your health care practitioner before starting with this. And as far as exercise goes, from the latest data I've seen it is more important to do it - even if it is late in the day - rather than skip it. Just take a bit of time after to wind down before going to sleep.

I hope these tips have helped, and let me know if you have other practices that have helped with your sleep.