Sleep has been found to be one of the key factors in just about every aspect of a healthy lifestyle. Getting enough sleep (that’s 7-9 hours for adults) boosts your mood and fights depression, lowers stress levels, fights chronic inflammation, improves memory, and increases the immune system. It also makes you a better driver, a better athlete, a better investor, and a better student.
Not getting enough sleep may be holding you back from your fitness goals. Lack of adequate sleep will increase your hunger levels, make you crave carbs and sugars, and increase mood swings and fatigue. Yuck! If you make it a priority to get your 7-9 hours, you’ll perform better in the gym and you’ll lose a higher percentage of body fat. Basically, sleep is a totally FREE way to increase your health and fitness stock!
But we know, we know: getting quality rest isn’t always easy. Here are 5 tricks to getting more Zzz’s without spending too many $$$’s…
1. Ear plugs. For light sleepers with loud neighbors, or for travelers or people with roommates (or kids!), sound can often be the main sleep interrupter. Ear plugs cost less than $2 and can make a huge difference in staying asleep.
2. Melatonin. This is the chemical your body releases to relax you into and during sleep. If you have trouble falling asleep, you can take a small dose before bed to save yourself a lot of time and anxiety. A bottle can be found at just about any drug store for less than $8, and the effects are usually pretty immediate. It won’t keep you asleep all night, but it will make you feel relaxed and cozy while you’re trying to fall asleep.
3. Pzizz. This is a falling-asleep app that you can download for free on iTunes. It uses non-repetitive white noise to calm your mind and put you to sleep quickly, and claims to make you wake up feeling refreshed and energized.
4. Eye mask. A less expensive alternative to blackout curtains, eye masks make it dark and keep it dark — which means better sleep. They’re also great for travel or for couples where one person rises earlier than the other. Available for around $5 at most drug stores.
5. Blackout Curtains. Okay, so these are a bit of an investment, but if you’ve tried everything else and still aren’t getting enough sleep they might be worth a try. Sleeping in actual darkness allows for your body to release the appropriate amounts of chemicals and hormones that relax and repair the body, and this housekeeping can’t be done if the sun is bouncing around your room. You’ll get deeper, more restful sleep in complete darkness.
Jessi Kneeland is an NYC-based personal trainer. She believes that fitness can show people what they’re made of, including our own Recessionista-in-chief, who’s bum Jessi kicks daily. Check out her blog at http://jessikneeland.wordpr