Top fitness tips: How good sleep can help you reach your goals

Our fitness guru Ollie Booth is offering these top tips to help you get into shape.

Friday, 15th January 2021, 12:49 pm
Updated Friday, 15th January 2021, 12:50 pm
Sleep is a crucial part of being ready to take on your fitness regime. (Photo by Hugh Hastings/Getty Images)

Losing weight with your eyes closed

The more we learn about sleep, the more we realise it’s importance. From a weight loss perspective, it might be the piece of the puzzle that is holding you back.

When embarking on a health and fitness goal, we shouldn’t be relying on motivation alone and beating ourselves up when we don’t achieve what we want to. Instead, we need to use all our other tools to clear our path of obstructions; sleep is one such tool.

When we’re tired the part of the brain involved in thoughtful judgements doesn’t work as well; if we’re sleep deprived then we’re more likely to go for more calorie-dense foods. Also, due to hormones, you’ll feel more hungry and less full.

Exercise

Exercise can help you get to sleep quicker, stay asleep longer and improve the quality of sleep. Even walking for 10 minutes a day will have benefits. Just be careful not to exercise within a couple of hours of your bedtime.

Use light

Reduce artificial lighting and in particular the light given off by screens before bedtime. Set a time where you stop using your phone or use dimmable lighting. More light in the morning will also help. Sunlight is the best, so try and get out first thing if you can.

Winding down

This will look different for everyone; essentially you are trying to relax and clear your mind. For busy minds, doing a brain dump is recommended. Whether that’s planning tomorrow’s activities or simply getting all your thoughts onto paper.

Mental health

If you find you wake up a lot or struggle to switch off before bed there may be a mental health issue holding you back. Sometimes you can resolve the issue by yourself but you may need the help of a service such as counselling.

Sleep routines

For most people 7-9 hours of sleep is needed. There are some people who don’t need this much, but they’re rare. You’ll need to experiment to find out what works for you. When you’re assessing how you feel the next day, make sure you’re not just feeling great because of other factors such as caffeine or things like the nervous energy that comes with anxiety.