Two of the most important things we can do to take care of our bodies are exercise regularly and eat well consistently.  Nutrition and exercise play a huge role in overall well-being, but there is another wellness practice that trumps all: quality sleep.  No matter how disciplined a regular workout routine and healthy diet could be, if the individual is not properly resting and recovering,  wellness ultimately suffers. The average recommended amount of sleep per ranges between 7 and 9 hours per night. While some of us are lucky enough to actually get a restful 8 hours, a lot of us toss and turn a lot throughout the night. If sleep is the most important indicator of overall health and well-being, do all that you can to support a consistent practice of the healthy habit. Make your hours count with a few recommendations from the National Sleep Foundation:

Keep a sleep schedule of the same bedtime and wake-up time, even on the weekends.

Sleeping at consistent times on a routine helps regulate the body’s internal alarm clock.  Building good timing habits will help the body fall asleep, and stay asleep for the night. Conditioning the body’s circadian rhythm results in more restful sleep, which translates into higher energy days.

Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual.

Bedtime should be a time of winding down and relaxation. Yet, a lot of us tend to let our minds run wildly whether it be thinking about the stresses of the day, or what stresses we will face tomorrow. Try a pre-bedtime journal where you write down all of your worries prior to even getting in bed. This should help clear your mind a bit, and allow you to get to sleep more quickly. Avoid electronics and bright lights as part of your bedtime routine. While it’s great to stay updated on our social media and emails, it can really delay our bodies from falling asleep.

Avoid napping during the day to fall asleep more quickly.

While this one may sound easy, it’s also just as easy to fall asleep in the middle of the day when you have nothing else going on. The only downside is the resulting difficulty to sleep that same night. If you need a midday power nap, avoid the late afternoon that may affect your bedtime.

Exercise daily.

Exercise just seems like a universal cure-all, right? The more vigorous your exercise routine is the more tired you’ll be, creating more of a chance to sleep better at night. Similar to naps, make sure to not time your workouts too close to bedtime, especially if you are someone who includes caffeine in your pre-workout routine.

If you really want to achieve your best results in the gym, make sure to do all that you can with the other 23 hours to support your one hour workout.  

-John Runyon, Columbus