I was always the type of person that thought I could get by on minimal sleep. I frequently used to say to my friends and family: “you can sleep all you want when your dead”. Turns out that I realised something. This is not the case. When your dead…your just dead.

So following my hip surgery, my osteopath suggested I read a book called “sleep smarter” by Shawn Stevenson. In this book, he suggests that good sleep is imperative to health, weight loss and recovery from injuries. During my recovery from surgery, I had time on my hands so I thought I would give it a go.

The results were staggering. Once I dedicated time to getting good quality sleep, not only did I find that my recovery and healing time quickened, but I lost more weight and felt so much better in the morning.

Exercising, eating, moving around and all other tasks you do on a day to day basis are “catabolic”. Which means that they break down the body (or in the case of exercise: muscle tissue). Sleep is the ONLY activity which is “anabolic” (the Greek word for building up). So in other words, we repair, grow and heal ourselves in this state! So for many of us (myself included) who slave endlessly doing cardio and wonder why we never lose weight, or constantly get injured…there is almost a guarantee that it’s related to our food intake and quality of sleep.

Now quality is the key word here. You do not need 8 hours. That’s a myth. Anything from 6-9 hours is the target zone, and make sure it is not interrupted with the sound of your mobile phone. They key is to make your bedroom a sanctuary. We should try to sleep in an area where we are not close to a phone or tablet, and no television. The bedroom should be used for the two S’s, with sleep being one, and I’m sure you can guess the other!

I guarantee that when you go to bed at a reasonable hour, say 11pm latest, and wake up a little earlier, in my case 6am, you will feel full of energy throughout the day and you will wake up in a better condition then if you went to bed at 2am and woke up at 10am. Even though the latter time slot is 8 hours compared to 7, it is the timing that is important. Since the invention of the light bulb, humans have altered their sleep habits which means that we are no longer congruent with out palaeolithic ancestors.

Sleeping earlier and waking up earlier means our bodies are in tune with our circadian rhythm, which reduces stress and increases recovery time. It’s no wonder why diabetes and obesity have sky rocketed since the industrial revolution. This is because our bodies have not had time to heal due to disrupted sleep. And stress is a contributing factor to these types of conditions.

Give it a go. You will thank me.