Sleep impacts your energy levels, but can your energy levels impact your sleep?
We often think we have to be exhausted to get a good night’s sleep, but being too low on energy could lead to your sleep suffering.
Even when you feel like you’re doing all of the ‘right things’; eating well, perhaps intermittent fasting, exercising for stress, and pushing yourself physically to see results, there is a chance that doing all of the above in excess is creating an energy imbalance. Ultimately, more isn’t always better and could be putting your sleep-recovery cycles in jeopardy – and of course, we all know without quality sleep, all those ‘right things’ are unsustainable and soon go out of the window!
Here is how to balance your energy throughout the day, to improve your sleep:
- Become aware of your chronotype:
There are four different sleep chronotypes (Bear, Wolf, Lion, and Dolphin) these are determined by your genetics. Knowing which one you are is like having a superpower!
Some types prefer early mornings (Lions), others are more creatures of the night (Wolf), whilst some view sleep as a biological necessity (Dolphin) and the majority match their sleep with the sun cycle (Bears), due to their circadian rhythms. The goal is to understand your unique chronotype so you can go to bed and wake up at a time that suits you best. Not only is sleep time important for each chronotype, but understanding when you have energy and scheduling in your exercise routine when you are peaking and troughing, means you are more likely to carve out a successful routine, with greater progression and balanced energy for the rest of your day.
- Bring variety into your training program:
If you are a runner or a sole gym-goer for free weights, add some variety into your programme to stimulate your body and mind in a different way. Try a morning cardiovascular workout class to kick-start you day, or even an evening yoga session to relax. The more variety you bring into your workouts, the more you can start to tailor your exercise schedule and understand your own personal and genetic disposition for energy throughout the day.
- Avoid false energy in caffeine and sugar:
Hydration is crucial after a night’s sleep, so drinking water or a non-caffeinated drink first thing in the morning to enhance the body’s systems and promote more energetic feelings is the way to go.
Try to limit your caffeine intake to in the morning as well as approximately 6 hours before you intend to go to sleep, this is because caffeine can stay in your system for several hours. Another energy vampire is sugar. Whilst it may provide you that quick fix, it can be a temporary energy high and processed sugars especially are likely to cause an energy deficit later in the day, and in the long-term lead to inflammation.
- Let there be light to enhance mood:
Spending just 15 mins outdoors in the morning is one of the best ways to offer a quick mood boost and to keep your circadian rhythm in check, in turn, improving your sleep. A recent UK study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders found that participants reported better sleep for every extra hour they spent outdoors. Moreover, participants had an easier time waking up, greater alertness throughout the day, and fewer issues falling asleep and staying asleep the more time they spent outdoors in natural day light.
- Breath your way to better sleep:
Adding a little breathwork to your morning routine, is a sure fire way to feeling less groggy and more energised. By waking up the respiratory system with a box breath technique or a more traditional pranayama such as ‘breath of fire’, the result is a flood of oxygen to the brain, and an instant refresher.
Whilst morning breathwork is a powerful tool to feeling awake, heightening concentration and efficiency for the rest of the day, focusing on nasal breathing (through the nose) is just as important, to support immune health, and allow you to retain more oxygen as you sleep. In fact, mouth-breathers are more likely to suffer with sleep-disorders, such as sleep apnea. Try incorporating nasal breathing throughout your day, consciously in your next yoga class and even on your next run.
Honour your unique chronological clock, and tailor your exercise and sleep routine to your natural energy levels. Avoid energy vampires such as caffeine, and processed sugars, and do your upmost to enhance energy promoters such as movement, morning breath-work and getting outdoors into sunlight. Remember balance is better; routine, rest, recover and restore yourself so you sleep soundly and function better the next day!
For more on balancing your energy for improved sleep see Dr Brues latest book ‘Energised’.
Written by Lyndsey Cocker – COACH LONDON Yoga Instructor