Never underestimate the importance of sleep. Even if a client is completing workouts like a beast and their eating is on point, not enough sleep can disrupt his or her progress. Never underestimate the importance of sleep. Even if a client is completing workouts like a beast and their eating is on point, not enough sleep can disrupt his or her progress. According the the National Sleep Foundation, adults between 18 and 64 need anywhere from 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night with some young adults (those between 18 and 25) needing up to 11 hours.
More Than Just Bags Under Your Eyes
When someone doesn’t get enough sleep, the side effects can be pretty major, some severe enough to practically change their day-to-day personality. This is why, in addition to providing workouts and nutritional information, it’s critical to advise your clients on proper sleep habits.
To get a sense of just how important sleep is to a healthy lifestyle, let’s take a look at some of the key side effects associated with a poor sleep schedule.
We all know the feeling. The one you get after a late night out or an evening of Netflix that began with the promise of “just one more episode” but turned into a full season binge. Not getting enough sleep can leave your mind feeling foggy, and can make you more forgetful and less alert than usual. This can greatly reduce your performance not only in the gym but in all aspects of your everyday life, and can even, at its extremes, become dangerous.
Though it’s not an obvious culprit, not getting enough sleep can actually result in weight gain. Failing to saw the necessary numbers of “Zs” can disrupt your appetite, increase feelings of hunger, and can lead to not caring about food choices, which can then lead to an increased calorie intake.
Lastly, when getting only a few hours of sleep, you can expect to see some impacts to overall mood. Waking up in the morning feeling sluggish and slow automatically lowers your mood and increases your irritability. Tack on a foggy mind, insatiable hunger, regret from the bad food choices you’ve been making, and a constant state of forgetfulness, and you’ve got a recipe for one terrible mood. With persistent sleep loss, things can get much worse with chronic insomnia being linked to depression.
Help Clients Make Sleep A Priority
Improving sleep habits is something we all want to improve (who wouldn’t want some more one-on-one time with their bed?) but few of us actually devote the time and energy it takes to fix the issue.
To help my clients get a handle on their sleep schedules I recommend creating a routine for better sleep starting with a bedtime notification.
Set a Bedtime Reminder
create routine, and
routine breeds habit.
It might sound silly, but setting a bedtime remember is critical to building healthy sleep habits. For iPhone users, the Bedtime Mode feature allows users to schedule a notification prompting them to go to bed based on the minimum amount of sleep they’d like to achieve each night (I recommend a minimum of 7 hours of sleep to my clients) and their required wake-up time. Similar notifications can be set up using a variety of apps and platforms, and make an excellent and gentle reminder to for clients who often find themselves awake later than they should be.
Track Your Sleep Habits
But it’s not just about going to sleep. It’s also staying asleep that matters. Which is why I recommend using fitness trackers that offer sleep mode or apps that record sleep patterns. These products are great tools to help you see how well you’re actually sleeping. Many trackers and apps record key stats including your total sleep time, amount of restful sleep and amount of restless sleep, most grading each night’s sleep so you can track your progress. Some even go so far as to record sound while you sleep so you can find out if any nighttime habits, like snoring, are keeping you up.
Control Your Sleep Environment
= better sleep.
While we can’t control everything, making some key changes to where we sleep can have a huge impact on how we sleep. Remind clients to think about their sleep environment and encourage them to make it as sleep-friendly as possible. Set the room temperature to a comfortable level: according to experts, a temperature of 16-20°C or 60-68°F is ideal. Keep widows shaded as dark as possible as light can disrupt your sleep. As tempting as some pre-slumber Instagram browsing may be, avoid screens and backlit devices right before going to bed; instead, try reading a book or doing some meditation to relax your mind and allow you to drift off to sleep faster.
Above all, what I always tell my clients is that they need to find what works for them and devote time to turn it into a habit. Remember, it takes time to build a habit so encourage clients to take it one day at a time.
Sleep is extremely important and helpful to your body, and it plays a critical role in reaching fitness goals. Don’t let lack of sleep derail your clients’ progress. Help them get some well-deserved shut-eye—no sheep counting required.