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How to establish a proper sleep routine
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 18 - 10 - 2020

Yasmine Hassan, official Baytak Nadeek trainer and Saudi Sports for All Federation (SFA) ambassador, emphasizes the important role that sleep plays in our overall wellbeing
Proper sleep, something most people rebelled against as children and craved as adults, is probably the most important act of self-care.
The far-reaching benefits of regular, uninterrupted sleep affect everything from a strengthened immune system, a stronger heart, improved memory, increase in physical performance, weight management and a better mood.
While regular exercise is highly beneficial, if the purpose of doing so is weight management then not sleeping properly will undo a lot of the effort that went into the workout.
In fact, insufficient sleep is strongly linked to weight gain because of havoc wreaked on hormone levels and a decrease in motivation to get up and move.
Furthermore, sleep-deprived individuals tend to have a bigger appetite and eat more calories because of the fluctuations in appetite hormones and higher levels of ghrelin — the hormone that stimulates appetite, and reduced levels of leptin — the hormone that suppresses appetite.
Post-workout sleep is also crucial to helping muscles repair and to lower inflammation. Without this down time for the body, nagging injuries will linger, having a long-term negative impact on training.
"Regular, plentiful of sleep also makes your gut happier," according to Yasmine, who is in the process of completing Level One of the Precision Nutrition Certification.
"It is important to note that 75% of the body's immune system is in the gut. The gut microbiota that resides in the gastrointestinal tract provides essential health benefits to its host, particularly by regulating immune homeostasis that helps fight off viral infections and disease," she added.
Studying nutrition is the latest qualification in her journey to her holistic approach to health and fitness.
Previous certifications include being an ISSA Sports & Conditioning Instructor, an ACE Personal Trainer, an Injury REHAB Trainer, a CrossFit Certified L1 & L2 Trainer, CrossFit specialty courses in weightlifting, gymnastics, and judging, and has completed the OPEX Coaching Certificate Program (CCP) in program design, nutrition, movement assessment, and lifestyle and behavior.
Yasmine added that there are a few steps that almost everyone can take to improve their sleep. Some are obvious like avoiding sugar, caffeine, and nicotine — and not only in the usual suspects like coffee and chocolate but also in foods like certain teas, ice cream and certain pain relievers.
Also, decaf doesn't mean caffeine-free.
"Also, avoid going to bed too hungry or too full. A light snack is okay, but a large meal can cause indigestion, which interferes with sleep. Drinking too many fluids at night can cause frequent bathroom visits during your rest hours — so make sure you reach your daily liquid intake one or two hours before bedtime," she said.
She also strongly suggests creating a wind-down relax routine before bed, such as reading in bed — not from a screen, meditation and breathing exercises, or listening to soothing music.
The bedroom itself should be dark, cool, and free of gadgets. Anything that might detract for a good night's rest should be removed where possible.
The most important piece of advice for improving sleep is to stick to a sleep schedule. "Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day is the single most effective way of helping improve your sleep.
"Sleeping later on weekends won't fully make up for a lack of sleep during the week and will make it harder to wake up early on Sunday morning. Set an alarm for bedtime and stick to it."
Having established the importance of sleep, marrying a proper routine with regular physical activity is a surefire way to see a dramatic improvement in overall health.
Progressively increased levels of physical activity results in corresponding progressive increase in the amount of deep non-rapid eye movement (NERM) sleep and total sleep time.
Sustained physical activity such as a long day hike, extended bike ride, or even simple outdoor gardening can all have a positive effect by deepening the quality of sleep and reducing the time it takes to fall asleep. It also reduces wake up in the middle of the night.
Exercise is favorable at any time of day, but for the best results the latest workout should be at least two hours before lights out.
With some careful planning, the SFA encourages you to try and find the balance between staying active and getting enough rest to ensure you reap the most benefits to achieve your fitness goals. — SG

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