Sleep – The missing health and fitness link

Sleep allows our bodies to recover, helps combat stress, build energy levels, balance emotional well-being and cortisol levels. Even with a healthy diet and regular training regime, without decent sleep you will struggle to achieve the health and fitness goals that you seek.

Poor sleep mainly affects testosterone production.  Men build less muscle, burn less fat and face longer recovery from exercise whilst for women it affects energy production and hormone levels. This can have numerous consequences, including adversely affecting the production of lean muscle and regeneration of cell walls (which is the natural way we combat ageing).

We all need quality recovery, whether it be to cope with daily stressors, recover from exercise or to simply be at our best. We can all cope for a couple of dodgy nights, but beyond that it will physically affect us.

Sleep Pattern Diagnostics

For many people going to bed and falling asleep is not that easy. But the pattern of sleep can give us an indicator of what is affecting it.

  1. If you wake between 12-1am.

If you find you wake only a couple of hours after going to bed it could be that your blood glucose is dropping and this overly quick energy change has been shown to disturb sleep. One answer here is to try and add more long release carbohydrates to your evening meal, like plentiful crunchy vegetables

  1. If you wake between 2-3am.

If you wake between these hours it is often linked to detoxification problems and addressing liver detoxification is quite often the answer.

  1. If waking between 3-5am.

Waking at this time is often linked to stress and the adrenal system. There are many ‘stress resolvers’ worth exploring from meditation to adrenal support nutrients that will help sleep through this period.

Circadian Rhythms

Assisting your natural sleep patterns is vitally important to achieve a quality sleep.  Simple things like sleeping in a very dark room, and or allowing natural light (or a close alternative) to wake you up can naturally help to get the hormone response required to establish a healthy daily rhythm. Using alarm clocks that gradually light the room up are proving a popular and effective way of doing this.

Sleep is best achieved when the body is cold and there is a need to slow down.  So cool your room down a couple of hours before bed.  Contrary to popular belief a warm bath is not conducive to a good night’s sleep because it raises your core temperature and slows down your need to sleep.

Good sleep patterns are vital for good health, the ability to manage stress and to feel energised. If you suffer from poor sleep, try some of the above tips to help you towards an improvement, as doing so will help you reap benefits in everything you do.


First published in ‘Knightsbridge Village’, October 2014