Goal: Set a schedule for your sleep. According to your schedule set a time to go to bed and wake up. Set it and stick with it.
Example: Ideally you want to be going to bed before 11 (between 10 and 11 would be the goal) then you would set a goal to be up before 7 (between 6 and 7). You can set exact times and set an alarm clock or give yourself a range - either way, you will always feel better, more rested and productive if your body is on a schedule. If you have a varying schedule, still try to still set a routine - for instance on work days I go to bed at this time and wake at this time. On days off my schedule is this.
Why should it matter when I go to bed, or if it is scheduled versus just trying to sleep as long as possible?
There are countless studies that show a scheduled person on a routine (even a shift schedule) gets better quality sleep when they have trained their body to be on a sleep schedule. Any parent on the planet will tell you a newborn NEEDS their sleep schedules in order to be well behaved. Well as we grow, we often give up our schedules to the demands of our lives, but even an adult performs best when sleeping on a schedule.
When we get adequate sleep it not only improves your mood, but it also improves your muscle recovery from your workouts. You minimizes water retention while balancing hormones (ghrelin and leptin). These 2 little hormones are the key to controlling your hunger and sticking to your food related health goals! Not to mention the alert focused feeling you need to keep on track to be your best self every day. Hmm, starting to see why everything goes to crap when I don't sleep.
"When dieters in this study got a full night's sleep, they lost the same amount of weight as when they slept less. When dieters got adequate sleep, however, more than half of the weight they lost was fat. When they cut back on their sleep, only one-fourth of their weight loss came from fat." according to Science Daily. "For the first time, we have evidence that the amount of sleep makes a big difference on the results of dietary interventions. One should not ignore the way they sleep when going on a diet. Obtaining adequate sleep may enhance the beneficial effects of a diet. Not getting enough sleep could defeat the desired effects." This article quoted several studies and is an interesting quick read, I reccomend it.
The Harvard Women’s Health Watch suggests six reasons to get enough sleep:
- Learning and memory: Sleep helps the brain commit new information to memory through a process called memory consolidation. In studies, people who’d slept after learning a task did better on tests later.
- Metabolism and weight: Chronic sleep deprivation may cause weight gain by affecting the way our bodies process and store carbohydrates, and by altering levels of hormones that affect our appetite.
- Safety: Sleep debt contributes to a greater tendency to fall asleep during the daytime. These lapses may cause falls and mistakes such as medical errors, air traffic mishaps, and road accidents.
- Mood: Sleep loss may result in irritability, impatience, inability to concentrate, and moodiness. Too little sleep can also leave you too tired to do the things you like to do.
- Cardiovascular health: Serious sleep disorders have been linked to hypertension, increased stress hormone levels, and irregular heartbeat.
- Disease: Sleep deprivation alters immune function, including the activity of the body’s killer cells. Keeping up with sleep may also help fight cancer.
Try it - trust me, you'll get more done the next day on a full tank of gas than if you stay up late tonight to get an extra hour or two to work on a project.