Five Factors for Optimal Fitness – Get More Sleep

A stressed organism cannot have optimal health or fitness


Getting enough sleep is one of the best ways of coping with stress

Downtime after a workout is easy.

Your muscles are tired, they’re begging for rest, and it’s none too difficult to put your feet up and oblige. But chances are you aren’t giving yourself enough recovery from your other daily stresses.  

Many Sources of Stress

We live in a fast-paced world with many demands on our time and our bodies. But even though we live in the 21st century, our bodies remain prehistoric. We have mechanisms to deal with short-term stressors and a certain level of stress is needed to function well. The problems arise when stress becomes chronic and the body can’t adapt to the stress load.

Stress doesn’t just refer to times when you’re upset about that guy who cut you off on your commute or worried about cramming all night for a mid-term. It can come from many different sources, some obvious and some not.

We can be overloaded by physical, emotional and mental stresses. For example, a poor diet can be stressful on your system. It deprives your body of the nutrients it needs while filling you up on empty calories that get stored as excess fat, causing even more stress on your system.

Tight muscles and joints are mechanical stress on the body. Lack of sleep can affect your health in many ways; go long enough without sleep and you’ll go crazy and eventually die.

A stressed organism cannot have optimal health or fitness as too much energy is required to cope with the stress and not enough is left over to grow.  

Sleep to Restore the Body

Getting enough sleep is one of the best ways of coping with stress. Adequate sleep allows your body time to recuperate and repair itself on a daily basis. Rare individuals can get by on as little as four or five hours sleep but most people need seven to eight hours of sleep every night.

Eating well by getting enough vegetables and fruits, healthy proteins and fats can help your body deal with stress. Stretching after exercise can help relieve excess tension in the muscles. Yoga is a great form of exercise since it works on your flexibility but also helps quiet your mind. Meditation can be helpful in this regard as well.  

But I’m a big fan of short afternoon naps. If you can arrange to get a 10-minute shut-eye after lunch, I highly recommend it.  

Treat yourself with some TLC and enjoy a bit of downtime. If your boss complains about your catnap, tell her the guy who writes the wellness blog said it’s healthy and will actually make you more productive. 

Read about the next factor for optimal fitness: vitamins