*This is a paid post in conjunction with TEMPUR® but all thoughts are my own
I am always looking for ways to improve the quality of my sleep. As a busy working parent, I am always on the go and inevitably my bedtime ends up later than I’d like and I still have to get up early in the morning with the children. So what’s the answer?
Recently TEMPUR® have announced their new partnership with women’s road cycling team DROPS Le Col for the 2021 season, demonstrating their commitment to supporting athletes with their exercise and training schedules.
TEMPUR® has a long history of supporting athletes, who are natural allies in TEMPUR®’s mission to improve health through high-quality sleep. TEMPUR® have provided the DROPS Le Col riders with mattresses and pillows to boost rest and recovery at home plus products for the road to enhance performance during the tour too.
As you can tell, sleep and exercise go hand in hand and I think we can learn a lot from this. You perform better in every aspect of your life when you sleep well and you also sleep better when you have regular exercise. It’s one thing I’ve learnt during the pandemic – both sleep and exercise do me a world of good.
Improving sleep with sleep cycles
Another thing I have discovered recently is how important sleep cycles are when it comes to sleep quality. I wear an activity tracker when I sleep and it shows me my complete range of sleep cycles, broken down into the four main stages of sleep.
How well I have slept, and how I feel the next day, are always in line with the sleep stages. The more REM and deep sleep I have, the better I feel and the more active I’m able to be.
What are the Sleep Cycle Stages?
Each night we have four to six sleep cycles and each one is made up of different sleep stages. Each stage has a purpose to provide you with quality rest, and each sleep cycle will vary in length through the night. Sleep cycles differ from person to person and there’s no perfect cycle for sleep. If you feel well rested, then you probably are!
The first stage of sleep is the transition between wakefulness and sleep. It’s a light sleep stage where your heartbeat, breathing rate, eye movements, and brain wave activity will gradually slow and your muscles begin to relax.
The second stage is still light sleep with your heartbeat, breathing rate, eye movements, and brain wave activity dropping to even lower levels. Your body temperature decreases significantly and eye movements stop. This is the longest of the sleep stages.
The third stage is the start of deep sleep. Heartbeat, breathing rates, and brain wave activity reduces to the lowest possible level and the muscles will relax completely. This is a longer stage than when you first fall asleep but it gradually shortens through the night.
The final stage of the sleep cycle, known as REM, will first occur about an hour and a half after you nod off. Your eyes will move rapidly beneath your eyelids and your brain will become more active. Your breathing rate increases, and your heart rate and blood pressure rise to nearer the level of wakeful periods. Dreaming mainly takes place during this stage and your muscles will be temporarily paralyzed which prevents you from physically responding to dreams
How much sleep do you need?
Most adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night to fully recover and recharge. I know that even if I have this amount of sleep, if I wake often or toss and turn during the night I won’t wake up feeling refreshed. A good chunk of quality sleep is needed to really help me reset.
I always find it harder to sleep away from home and I think this has a lot to do with having the right mattress, pillows and bedding for me at home. It’s taken me years to find the perfect products for me to really aid my sleep quality and so I miss them when we’re away.
The right mattress is really important when it comes to sleep quality. TEMPUR® mattress material was born from NASA technology. Their innovative memory foam has pressure relieving properties as well as unrivalled comfort and support giving such a great night’s sleep.
Exercise and sleep
Exercising improves sleep quality for many people. Moderate exercise can reduce the time it takes to fall asleep and decrease the amount of time that you lie awake in bed during the night. So, by exercising you can spend more time actually asleep, helping you to feel more rested and recharged.
On the flip side, everything you do during the day requires sleep. Without sleep, and with poor quality sleep, your body will never be able to fulfill its potential. Sleep gives your body time to recover, conserve energy, and repair and build up the muscles worked during exercise.
When we get enough good quality sleep, the body produces growth hormone. During childhood and adolescence, growth hormone makes us grow and when we are older, it helps us build lean muscle and helps our body repair when we have torn ourselves up during a hard workout. This growth hormone is essential for athletic recovery.
So, as you can see, sleep and exercise go hand in hand. I go for a walk each day and I am always feeling more energetic and ready for my walk when I’ve had a good night’s sleep. The walk also really sets me up for the day and, whenever I exercise, I always sleep so much better that night too.
Over the last year or so I’ve realised a few things. I need to exercise each day whether it’s just walking on the school run or going for a jog in the afternoon, it makes me feel better. I also need to focus on getting more sleep to give my body a chance to have as much quality sleep as possible.
So I’ve brought my bedtime forward, knowing that I already get up as late as possible anyway! I’ve also started taking my pillow with me when we go away. It really does make such a difference and I feel all the better for it too.