With the joyful excesses of the Christmas holidays behind us, it is a natural time to start thinking about your health and wellness goals for 2017.
When it comes to overall wellbeing (and any resolutions you may have in mind), it’s normal to focus on diet and exercise. Yet on a global scale, there is a growing acceptance of the reality that the key to total wellbeing is the complete trio of diet, exercise, AND sleep. At RESTED we acknowledge that Sleep is the single most important determinant of how you feel every day and therefore how you perform. It pays dividends to take sleep seriously and ensure that both how you sleep, and what you sleep on, are the best they can be. There is an enormous ‘knock on’ effect that translates into every aspect of your waking hours…..
Reflecting on our planned gym activity for 2017 it is obvious that exercise and sleep are complementary and linked in a daily cycle. Being physically tired is essential for falling asleep efficiently and likewise sleep becomes a lot more important for the purposes of recovery from exercise undertaken. You need to be well rested in order to exercise effectively. So here is our guide as to why sleep and exercise whilst seemingly opposite, are in fact so very similar....
Motivation and discipline are required; you have to be mentally ready and motivated to push yourself to exercise, just as you have to resolve and motivate to start and maintain a regular sleep routine. To prioritise sleep and do what is necessary to reap the benefits of really good sleep. Both activities require a commitment and a strong element of discipline. Trust us, if you can address sleep with the same gusto that many of you will attack the treadmill with, you can make a real change to how you feel and your daily wellbeing.
It gets easier the more you do it; as you experience the gains of exercise or sleep, it becomes easier every time. You can gain fitness in the gym, and you can also train yourself to sleep better. With time and practice your body gets used to what you are asking of it.
Routine matters; if you want make real gains through exercise, committing to a regular routine and exercising regularly are critical to getting a result. Similarly, having an occasional ‘catch up’ 15 hour sleep on the weekend is not going to hack it – regular and consistent sleep is what is necessary. You have to schedule a routine or regime that prioritises regular and consistent sleep.
You need the right basic gear; decent trainers and active sportswear make a difference to your exercise performance and comfort level. Exercise regularly and you quickly realise the truth to this. When it comes to sleep, your bed and mattress are the critical ‘basics’ that will shape your experience. It pays to get it right and is the first step to engaging in optimised sleep. It's not physically possible to have unbroken deep sleep, if you are uncomfortable. Discomfort stops sleep, in just the same way that painful or incorrect footwear will stop you from running.
Advanced Tech has a purpose; music, headphones, GPS, fitness trackers – by no means essential to a fitness regime, but certainly can be beneficial, especially the more regularly and seriously you target your goal. Good sleep also has many performance enhancers beyond the basics above. Advanced pillows, ventilated sheets, thermoregulating duvets, sound, light, and smell. When optimised they all add to the totality of your sleep performance. We are quick to say though that it’s not only about products and tech. They are facilitators and enhancers, but their effectiveness is entirely reliant upon you and how you use them. Having the greatest equipment in the world is worthless unless you commit to the basics and motivate yourself.
Understanding and help is worthwhile; effective exercise requires knowledge. Physical Fitness is a technical discipline. You can always benefit from considering and optimising your technique, designing a routine, or for general motivation. A personal trainer, class instructor, or informing yourself with reading/learning all help. Sleep is the same. As much as many of us think that we are experts in both exercise or sleep because we are physically capable of doing either, there is a lot to be gained from specialist advice and understanding how to maximise both the physical and mental aspects of your endeavour. Don’t underestimate how technical sleep is. We tend to overlook it because we can fall asleep pretty much anywhere, but that is exactly why such a big gain can be derived. When you start to prioritise and understand sleep, it opens the doors to real achievement and physical benefits.
Performance and quality matter; Whether you are buying a decent bike, or some running shoes, when it comes to exercise there is a difference between a fashion product and a performance product. Going to a specialist that has the knowledge to assist you to find what is right for you is really important, as is trying before you buy. Any item that your body is going to use, whether it is a shoe, a bike, a pillow or a mattress, needs to respond and fit to you perfectly. It should also be of a quality that reflects your investment and is guaranteed to last.
Individualism is key; both exercise and sleep are personal matters, so you have to treat your approach as an individual. What works for you, what you enjoy, and what generates the maximum return depends on many factors that are unique to you only. Swimming for example is great exercise but there’s no point taking up swimming if you hate the water or don’t have the time to get to the pool regularly. Likewise there’s no point in forcing yourself to bed at 7pm if you only get home from work at 6:30pm. Nor to cash out on the most expensive bed imaginable on the assumption it must therefore be comfortable. In order to be successful you have to make informed choices, relevant to you and your lifestyle, selecting only what is physically right for you.
Environment matters; whether you benefit from the luxury of a swanky gym, or the simple freshness of the great outdoors, where you exercise is an important factor for success. For sleep, the bedroom environment is absolutely critical to your sleep performance. You have to create an environment that is conducive to sleep.
Stay long term healthy and injury free – when you engage in exercise you have to take extra care to look after your body. Often your legs and back in particular. Whilst the mechanics of sleep are completely different, (no repetitive high stress impact or intensive muscular activity) because of the amount of time we spend in bed, small issues tend to get magnified quickly. For long term backcare you have to look after yourself whilst you sleep. That means that effective support, spinal alignment, and pressure relief are very important long term considerations. Deal with them now, and it will serve your body for the long run.
In the UK we have many shops selling sports goods and trainers, just as we have many bed shops. However, there are only a few that cater to those who take the matter (be it sleeping or exercise) seriously and offer elite products from performance manufacturers. Together with the specialist advice to allow you to make the right decision. What makes an elite fitness store and an elite sleep store is the same. Access to the best products in the market and the knowledge and service to accurately assist their customers.
The good news is that there are some important differences between a sleep expert and a fitness expert: Happily, we won’t be recommending any neon coloured products! Whilst you are down at the gym you may also hear the old fitness mantra ‘no pain, no gain’. Fortunately at RESTED, we can state the opposite and much more enjoyable mantra ‘no pain, big gain’. Total Sleep Comfort is key. The more comfortable you are, the better you sleep, and that is what underlies every product we use. That's why we say that to sleep better is the most enjoyable resolution you can make.
At RESTED we are the UK's leading specialist sleep engineers. At our unique ‘Sleep Loft’ we have the largest range of performance beds, mattresses and peripheral sleep products in the UK, sourced from the most exclusive manufacturers in the world. We have a consultative approach to understanding your sleep, and choosing the right products to deliver better sleep and look after your body. Your sleep tonight is about how you feel when you wake tomorrow as much as it is about recovering from the day you just had.
If like us, you value health, wellbeing, fitness, and daily performance, then don’t relegate your sleep to being ‘average’. Make a change for the better and do it right. Join us this 2017; reinvent your thinking on sleep. Develop a sleep routine. Optimise your bedroom environment and your sleep products to help you achieve your goals. Resolve to let good sleep be a positive factor for your year ahead.