I’m not a great sleeper. I love to sleep, I’m just not very good at it. At the weekend, I can easily sleep for 12 hours if I don’t set an alarm and as a teenager I took teenage lie-ins to whole new levels of concerning. I used to sleepwalk as a child and grind my teeth and I still toss and turn and talk, but apparently I don’t snore (thank goodness for small mercies…).
Working in the City means I find myself in stressful situations from time-to-time and, by my own confession, I am a bit of a worrier, which doesn’t help matters. But I’ve never been a great sleeper, so stress can’t be the only factor at play. The only thing I know for sure that helps with these nocturnal niggles is exercise.
You know how people say “if I don’t go to the gym, I really feel it – I feel like rubbish”? I never really used to understand what they meant, until I realised for myself the tangible correlation between the amount (and rigour) of exercise I do and the quality of sleep I get at night; a realisation that hit me really quite hard in my final semester of undergraduate study, when I was continuously stressed and strung-out, living on takeaway pizza and had all but given up on formal exercise.
This post is clearly not drawing any new conclusions. You guys already know this, I’ve not dropped some medical bombshell. Someone call NASA, Kate O’Connor’s had the most soporific, scientific breakthrough of the century! No. Rather this post is a reminder to myself. A reminder that when I roll in late, absolutely shattered after a long day at work, and all I want to do is curl up with a
large glass of wine in front of the TV, it might be what I want to do, but it’s not going to cure what ails me.
Although a little snifter before bed might make you feel like you’re dozing off that little bit more easily, alcohol has been proven to disrupt sleeping patterns and hamper the deep sleep phase where the body restores itself. Exercise, on the other hand, has been shown to actively improve quality of sleep, and can lead to a reduction in feelings of lethargy during the day.
So Kate, rather than reaching for gin, for the sake of a good night’s de-stressing, physically and mentally restorative sleep, suck it up for half an hour – you’re already tired, what difference is a few more minutes? It doesn’t have to be anything mental – just enough to get the heart rate up and the blood circulating. Stick your runners on before you’ve had a chance to sit down and go for a quick jog around the block; swing a kettlebell around in your bedroom; or while your dinner’s in the oven, stick on your favourite fitness DVD on (Hello Davina!) and to hell with what your housemates think!
Don’t get me wrong chums, I am all for a relaxing glass of wine
or three! I just need to give myself an extra nudge to make sure I’ve worked hard enough for it from time-to-time…