Sleep: The Forgotten Key to Wellness
Updated: Jun 3
By Ranier Castillo, MS, RD-Eligible, ACSM-CPT
When asked “What should you do to be healthy?” some immediate thoughts that come to your head might be, eating a balanced diet and exercising routinely. However, something that remains forgotten when discussing staying healthy and well is sleep. We all do it.
Sleep is natural and it’s our body’s way of making sure that we restore our physiological functions as much as possible. Sleep also plays a role in how well we maintain a balanced diet and how well we perform during our workouts. In countries like the United States, many of the daily routines (e.g. work and school) don’t fully provide the support and recommendation of eight hours of sleep a night. Therefore, this article hopes to highlight the importance of sleep in order to benefit their overall well-being.
Sleep as part of wellness
From childhood to adulthood, it is important to consider sleep as part of your wellness routine. Studies have even shown that adequate sleep in infants and children even prevents the risk of developing obesity.
Other studies have shown that a combination of exercise, nutrition, and sleep has the most benefits on preventing certain diseases (such as hypertension, diabetes, depression, cancer, heart attacks, and strokes) versus if one was to just focus on exercise and nutrition. Some even state that sleep has also helped with mental health and learning.
When the body does not get enough sleep, our bodies will tend to convince our brains to overeat. This is because since you do not want to go to sleep, the body is saying it needs more energy since you want it to stay up! That can explain why it is called late-night cravings or late-night munchies. Lack of sleep can also cause an increased risk of injury if you workout since the body did not have the proper time to recover.
Another side of the sleep
It is also important to note that too much sleep can also cause health risks as well. Usually, oversleeping is caused by an underlying condition or action based on the person. For example, an oversleeper can have insomnia or trouble sleeping at night which can throw off their circadian rhythm.
Another example is that a person might have not slept the previous night and was up all day doing work or strenuous activities, so the body needed those extra hours to restore. Therefore, it is important to address what could be causing the extra hours of sleep in order to get your body to optimal time of sleep.
The best time for sleep
So considering all these facts, how much sleep would you need to be at your best? The average healthy adult will usually need 7 to 9 hours of sleep. Especially in the age of technology and high-demand, considering 7 to 9 hours of sleep can be quite difficult. However, just like maintain a balanced diet and exercising regularly, sleep should be planned as well! To be successful, it is important to schedule your sleep schedule too. For example, if you have a morning workout class at 6 AM, it would be best to sleep at 9 PM (depending on if you can get everything ready and be at the studio within an hour of waking up at 5 AM).
Here are some tips to help fight insomnia or trouble waking up and getting everything ready in the morning:
Try Tart Cherry Juice - Tart Cherry Juice can be bought at any typical grocery store. A glass of this before bed is said to help people fall asleep thanks to the amount of melatonin;
Try Milk - If your diet permits, a glass of milk has also been known to put people to sleep; You can find out which one is best for your diet at https://app.metnu.com/
Pack Everything The Night Before - Yes that means everything! Putting your lunch and meal preps in a bag and stick it in the fridge. Have everything you need in your gym bag. Pull all your clothes you plan to wear the next day out of the closet and drawer;
Set your phone on night mode - If you use your phone right before bed, put your phone on night mode to help your eyes get relaxed and prepared to sleep versus the harsh bright light the phone normally illuminates;
Set multiple alarms and place them far away from your bed - This will help get you up out of bed versus accidentally hitting the snooze button and falling back asleep.
1. Taylor RW, Gray AR, Heath A-LM, et al. Sleep, nutrition, and physical activity interventions to prevent obesity in infancy: follow-up of the Prevention of Overweight in Infancy (POI) randomized controlled trial at ages 3.5 and 5 y. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2018;108(2):228-236. doi:10.1093/ajcn/nqy090
2. Lamp A, Cook M, Soriano Smith RN, Belenky G. Exercise, nutrition, sleep, and waking rest? Sleep. 2019;42(10). doi:10.1093/sleep/zsz138
3. Verschuren O, McPhee P, Rosenbaum P, Gorter JW. The formula for health and well-being in individuals with cerebral palsy: physical activity, sleep, and nutrition. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology. 2016;58(9):989-990. doi:10.1111/dmcn.13212