The Missing Link in Your Health & Fitness Routine

an alarm clock adjusting backward one hour and the text end of daylight saving timeThis weekend gave us two big reasons to cheer:

  1. Nearly 50,000 people crossed the finish line in the TCS New York City marathon. Congratulations to all you amazing athletes who participated in this incredible test of endurance!
  2. Most Americans enjoyed an extra hour of zzzzzzz’s thanks to the end of Daylight Saving Time.

So I thought I’d use this Motivation Monday to encourage everyone to think about an often overlooked piece of the well-being puzzle: your sleep habits.

Why do we need sleep? Research shows along with helping us stay energized, sleep helps regulate our mood and learn and retain valuable information. There are even studies linking inadequate sleep to weight gain. On a personal note, when I rack up too many consecutive nights without enough shut-eye, it’s harder to concentrate on everything from work to working out and I find myself annoyed by trivial things that usually roll off my back.

Here are some ideas for incorporating those all-important zzzz’s into your healthy routine:

  • Exercise: Physical activity can help you sleep. However, if I exercise less than two hours before going to bed, the endorphins keep me up. Aim to wrap a workout three hours before bedtime.
  • Alcohol: Anyone who’s read this blog for some time knows I enjoy a glass of wine to unwind at the end of the day. However, too much alcohol can have the opposite effect of calming the nerves and end up
  • However, too much alcohol can have the opposite effect of calming the nerves and end up wrecking your night. Of course, having a hangover the next day after too many libations is never a good thing.
  • Caffeine: I have some friends who can have a cup of coffee after dinner at 8 pm and still fall asleep at 10:30 pm. If I have caffeine after 3 pm, I’m looking at a rough night ahead. The key is to pay attention to how your body reacts. Make sure you check for “hidden” caffeine in things like herbal teas and chocolate.
  • Hunger:  The bottom line is you don’t want to go to bed hungry, but you don’t want to be too full either. I try not to snack at night after dinner, but if I do, I go for a single-serve bag of 94% fat-free popcorn, a skinny cow fudge pop or a few clementines or mandarins. Frozen grapes are great for taming those sweet cravings, too.
  • Stress:  This an area I hope to manage better this year. I recently read somewhere it’s a good idea to write down all your worries an hour before getting into bed. Whether it’s the to-do list for the next day or some project that’s been on your plate for awhile, writing things down gets the worry “out there” and you can deal with it in the morning. I find the nights I write in my journal (which I’ve been keeping since I was
  • Shutting Down:  If you scan the Internet, you’ll find plenty of research on how watching TV in bed and using smart phones and other portable devices can be overstimulating when your body is trying to wind down. Aim to power down at least 30 minutes before closing those tired eyes for the night.

Remember, if you’ve made the commitment to workout and watch what you eat, you also owe it to yourself to give your body time to rest and recharge. It’s all part of the winning formula to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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About LauraLovesFitness

After spending more than 10 years in the communications industry, this lifetime fitness lover and newly certified fitness professional wants to share my passion for health and well-being with others.

Posted on November 7, 2016, in Fitness, Health and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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