Sleep: The Health Triangle's Middle Child
As you look at your wellness goals, many people tend to focus on two major areas of health: diet and fitness. Although both nutrition and exercise are incredibly important for your overall health and well-being, there's another side to the health triangle that is overlooked: sleep.
The Importance of Sleep
Sleep is essential to a healthy lifestyle, giving your body the energy and ability to prepare and eat healthy food, crush your early-morning workout, or maintain self-control in the face of temptation to skip out on your daily routines.
In fact, recent Mattress Firm research has shown just how closely sleep is connected to good wellness habits. We discovered that people who exercise multiple times in a week are more likely than those who don't exercise to get 6-8 hours of sleep each night.
Beyond just hitting the gym, adults who exercise take better care of themselves in other aspects of their life, too — they are more likely to brush their teeth, wash their face and read in the hour before they go to bed. Non-exercisers, on the other hand, are more likely to spend that time watching TV.
Make Healthy Sleep a Priority
The most surprising thing we learned in our research is that the connection between healthy sleep and a healthy lifestyle doesn't just happen by accident. People who benefit from sleep and exercise make it clear that they've very intentionally put an emphasis on their sleep habits in order to realize these benefits. Our study showed that adults who exercise more than 4 hours each week say they make it a priority to get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
Further, we discovered that adults who exercise more often also make the effort to invest in their rest — they spend more money on their mattresses than their less-active counterparts and are more likely to own a body pillow, cooling pillow or sound machine.
What about the myth that active people can function on fewer hours of sleep than are recommended? In fact, the opposite is true. We found those who exercise regularly are more likely to say that they like or love getting a good night's sleep.
An Active Lifestyle Could be a Solution for Sleepless Nights
So, we've made our point that sleep is important to help you maintain an active, healthy lifestyle. But, the opposite is also true: if you're having trouble getting to sleep at night, inactivity during the day could be to blame.
We found that adults who exercise are more likely to fall asleep easily and stay asleep than non-exercisers. The good news? Just 1 to 3 hours of exercise a week can make a difference in one's ability to fall asleep.
It can be difficult to find the motivation to get to the gym or hit the trail, so consider this: our research also showed that those who exercise 4 or more hours each week are 50% more likely to wake up alert and feeling great!
No matter what your motivation is for starting to build healthy habits, it's essential to take a holistic approach. Healthy sleep leads to better workouts, better workouts lead to better eating choices, etc. Don't overlook one aspect of the health triangle to try and prop up another — that's just not a long-term strategy for success. Getting 7-9 hours of sleep consistently each night will help you succeed, no matter what your goals might be.
Good luck and good night!