Experts say that Americans who rely on caffeine and other quick fixes to boost energy levels are losing sight of what is essential to improve physical fitness: a good night’s sleep.In fact, an eye-opening 70 percent of Americans are getting less than eight hours of sleep at night, according to a national survey sponsored by the Better Sleep Council (BSC). And unfortunately, these restless people are far less likely to engage in a high-intensity physical activity, such as running or lifting weights, than those who get eight or more hours of shut-eye.“Sleep deprivation impacts us physically, which can negatively affect our coordination, agility, mood, and energy,” says Dr. Bert Jacobson, professor and head of the School of Educational Studies at Oklahoma State University. “Research shows that quality and adequate quantity of sleep leads to improvements in athletic performance, including better endurance, energy and even mood.”Studies also show that sleeping on a newer mattress may be the key to better sleep and increased physical endurance. According to the BSC survey, adults sleeping on newer (one to four years old) mattresses are more likely to participate in physical activities, as compared to adults whose mattresses are eight to 10 years old.To improve the quality of your sleep, and in turn, the quality of your life, try these tips from the BSC:
- Exercise regularly. A regular exercise regimen helps keep you fit and also helps you sleep better at night. But avoid really strenuous exercise right before bedtime.
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine and nicotine (e.g., coffee, cigarettes) close to bedtime. These can lead to poor sleep, keep you awake or disrupt sleep later in the night.
- Watch what you eat. Finish eating at least two hours before your regular bedtime, and avoid heavy or late meals.
- Evaluate your sleep equipment. Just as we need the proper equipment to get the best workout, we also need the proper sleeping equipment to get the best night’s sleep. If your mattress is five to seven years old, or if you wake up with stiffness, aches or pains, it’s time to evaluate your mattress and see whether a new one could provide you with better comfort and support.
For more information on how to evaluate your mattress and get a better night’s sleep to improve your physical activity and overall well-being, visit www.bettersleep.org.