Ali Winslow Why Your Body Needs Sleep

Why Sleep?

You exercise. You are fairly good about what you eat. You take care of your skin. Yet, you are dragging, not recovering from workouts, feeling drained at the end of the day, and you don’t feel like your body is changing like it should.


Sleep. Sleep is one of the most important components of our health. In the fitness world we refer to sleep as “restoration” or the ability to recover and rest from your workouts. Since this is our first week post time change, I figured it was a good time to highlight why sleep is the key to making your mind and body feel good.

When we sleep, our body recovers from the stresses of our daily lives. That could mean a stressful phone call, a hard workout, or a night out with friends. We need adequate time for our bodies to restore and rebuild. For some people that’s 8-9 hours, for others that’s 6-7 hours. Regardless of your “need” for sleep, if you continue to push the envelope and burn the candle at both ends, your light will extinguish. Essentially you will break down.

That presents itself as illness- colds, cough, upper respiratory infections, recurring sinus infections. Or it can present itself physically as overuse injuries/repetitive stress issues like elbow pain, back/neck pain, disc disease…the list could go on forever. Even further, your body’s response to sleep deprivation chronically is weight gain. It’s been documented that constant stress on the body without adequate rest/recovery actually releases acetylcholine (ACH) which directly targets belly fat. So- what I’m saying is your “pinch an inch” around your midsection has just as much to do with your eating as it does with your sleep.

A few years ago I had an amazing opportunity to meet Arianna Huffington, the creator of the Huffington post. She had just released a book called “Thrive” and she was doing a book tour with Virgin Wellness. She began her talk with a story about how she broke her face when she fell asleep at work. She was in the beginning stages of publication for the Huffington post when she collapsed at her desk in pure exhaustion and fell on her face. That was a wake up call. She then began to do a little bit of research into accidents like the metro train that crashed in NYC, oil spills like the Valdez and other major financial downfalls. All her research came to the same conclusion- these train conductors, boat operators, CEOs of major corporations were so sleep deprived they made bad decisions which ultimately cost people’s lives.

So, going back to the top where I first grabbed your attention-lack of sleep makes you gain weight. It makes you gain wrinkles, drains your color from your hair and face, makes you sore, allows you to make poor decisions. When you are tired you are more likely to grab carbohydrate laden foods. You may drive poorly. You may struggle with falling asleep or staying asleep because you are stressing your body.

What’s the key to wellness? Eat right for your body, move 10,000 steps every day, love yourself and your family, treat people with kindness, get yourself adequate sleep. It’s not rocket science people, it’s common sense.

Now let’s set some ground rules for yourself/
Get off your phones in your bed. Turn them off at least 30’ before you go to sleep.
Spend 5-10 minutes meditating. Breathing, resting your brain.
Get a book. A magazine. Anything to help you relax.
Eat your final meal at least 45’ before you plan to go to sleep. Avoid super hard foods to digest like kale, Brussels sprouts, tons of nuts, heavy cheeses and wine. If your body is working hard to digest, it’s can’t rest.
Set an alarm and focus on getting up and going to sleep at the same time every day. Your body likes to be on a schedule. Stick to a routine.

If you are too tired to workout then don’t. Forcing yourself to get to the gym is detrimental to your body and your workout.
Give yourself a break. If you have a late night- sleep in. If you feel sore, take the next day off. Foam roll or get a massage instead.

No matter what, be kind to yourself. It’s the only body you got!

Rest on friends.