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Stephen Cabral, CPT/CSCS is the author of Fatlossity as well as founder and director of FitLife by StephenCabral.com. The Diet.com video contributor has been an active member of the fitness and personal training community for over 10 years. His passion has led him all over the country in pursuit of continuing to further his education, certifications, and health & fitness philosophies.

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Fit Life with Stephen Cabral
by Stephen Cabral, Fitness Professional

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Why is sleep so important?

Without sleep everything you do during your day becomes that much more difficult.

Every decision you make is slower and more clouded, and every physical activity you perform is weaker and slightly off its mark.

Literally, all cognitive and physical activity depends upon a well rested mind and body…

The other side of depriving yourself of sleep is that when it comes to using your willpower to make the right nutritional, exercise, or healthy lifestyle choices, your decisions become less strong.

This means you're more likely to reach for the can of soda, the cookies, or any other sugary snack that will give you a quick “pick-me-up.”

And of course if you're exhausted then you're going to be far less motivated to get in your workout...

So in order for you to function at your best, day in and day out, you need to be getting 8-9 hours of sleep.

Yes, I know that “some studies” have said that some people can function on less than that, but there's a huge difference between “functioning” and being at your peak mental and physical self.

As humans, we were meant to sleep when it's dark and work while it was light out (that just makes sense since we've only had electric light bulbs for the last 130 years).

However, due to electricity and many other distractions like TV and computers we've been going to bed later and later and missing our window to fall into deep reparative sleep (10:00pm-2:00am).

This means that even if you get 8 hours of sleep a night, but it isn't between the 10:00pm-2:00am window, you won't be releasing as much melatonin (powerful sleep and reparative hormone) that in turn helps promote deep, restful and regenerative sleep.

I won't put you to sleep with the science behind the different stages of sleep, brain wave activity, and release of growth hormone during your rest, but I did want to share with you 10 tips for better sleep:

1. Get in Bed by 10

10:30pm at the latest. This will allow you to maximize the restorative powers of sleep - especially if you have to be up at 6:00am or earlier.

2. Turn Off the Lights

Shut off all electronics that emit light 1 hour before bed. That means no TV or computer within 1 hour of going to bed. The reason is that bright light inhibits the release of melatonin, and flashing light (like your TV) has been shown to increase cortisol due to the fight or flight response. Try reading a light fiction based book instead.

3. Do Not Eat Close to Bed

Finish your dinner 2-3 hours before falling to sleep. This will promote sounder sleep since your body won't be using so much energy for digestion and it can focus on repair.

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