Improve Your Sleep with These Helpful Tips
Did you know that people who get too little sleep eat hundreds of calories more during the day? But even if you aren’t trying to lose weight, it’s important to get plenty of sleep. Find out why you should get at least seven hours of sleep per night and the best ways to optimize your recovery after an intense workout.
Why adequate sleep is important:
- Seven to nine hours of sleep per night ensure that you can handle the day better. This also makes you more successful (for example, at work).
- Adequate sleep equals bigger training gains. Plus, a sweaty workout helps you get a good night’s sleep.
- Do you want to stay in shape? Regular rest can help. Sleep researchers have found that people who are sleep deprived eat about 300 calories more per day.
- Sufficient sleep strengthens your immune system! Who wants to be laid up in bed sick all the time?
These foods help you fall asleep
If you are having trouble falling asleep, you should try eating foods in the evening that contain a lot of potassium and magnesium. Why? They help you relax and thus sleep more deeply. Try eating a banana or meals with (sweet) potatoes or pumpkin seeds. A cup of cocoa with almond milk is the perfect bedtime drink: it contains tryptophan, an essential amino acid which your body needs to produce serotonin. And this in turn makes you feel relaxed and happy.
There are foods, however, you should avoid consuming before going to bed: take coffee, for instance. The reason is obvious – caffeine is a stimulant. Therefore, you should drink your last cup after lunch and not in the late afternoon. Also, light meals are better in the evening because they don’t sit heavy in your stomach. You should try to finish dinner two to three hours before going to bed.
Don’t underestimate the benefits of active recovery
Besides passive recovery (= sleep), active recovery is important for making performance gains and staying injury-free. But what is active recovery? Here are a few examples:
- Contrast showers: In the evening, take a shower, alternating between hot and cold water (30 seconds each). Repeat the hot/cold cycle at least five times.
- Cool-down: Always end your workout with a short cool-down.
- Stretching: Stretching is (unfortunately) often neglected. A short session is incredibly important after your workout and can help your body relax.
- Sauna: How about hitting the sauna after your workout once or twice a week? Many gyms nowadays include sauna facilities.
Would you like to learn some interesting facts and figures about shut-eye? Check out our infographic below for more about sleep and recovery: