Seany Harding, MLR Ambassador and Back2Basics fitness instructor

REST

World Mental Health Day falls on 10th October but we are pledging our long-term commitment to talk and act on this topic beyond just one single day. This October, join us for a jam-packed agenda of walks, talks, activities, blogs + events all around mental health.

Today, we are touching on the importance of ensuring you are well rested and the knock-on effect that can have on your physical and mental health. We chatted to Make Life Richer Ambassador and personal trainer, Seán Harding, for his expert opinion and experiences.

Seán Harding taking a few minutes of rest in the Sierra Fleece Hoodie in Slate Blue
How important is being well rested and getting a good night's sleep?

Rest is essential. Literally, if we are to function optimally, rest is a huge pillar when it comes to pushing the needle in the right direction. Rest plays so many important roles within the human body, from aiding your body in recovery right through to improving mood, body function and increased mental capacity.

Life tends to go at 100mph, do you have any tips on how people can incorporate more rest into their busy lives?

It’s so easy to forget to mind ourselves during these times because we’re so busy and preoccupied but trying to take even just 5 minutes out of every day to do something to unwind is so important. Take little gaps of time over the day to sit back and relax with some deep breaths, yoga/light stretching, time with friends/loved ones/pets, physical activity, pampering like a massage, walk in nature, a creative outlet, mindfulness, reading, journal your stresses, to-do list,and it can be a good way to clear your mind. Whatever you find works for you and helps you relax, try to schedule times for those things as you would schedule a training session, or time for work. Sufficient sleep will also be a big help here too when it comes to stress management so make 7-9 hours sleep a night a priority for the week ahead if you can.

Can you talk to us a little bit about your own sleep routine?

When I'm on point with my sleep routine, I tend to switch off from anything work-related at least an hour or two before sleeping. I do this by either watching some TV or reading or listening to a current book. A lot is said for switching off all electronic devices but realistically, I struggle to do this all the time. Bedtime would usually be between 9.30-10pm and waking time usually between 5-6am depending on workload. My aim is always to get at least 7-8 hours, but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t as it’s not always achievable. If I don't manage to get a full 7-8 hours, I aim to have a nap the following day to catch-up. All in all, I tend to sleep pretty well and don't have anything special that I do that helps massively other than staying away from caffeine in the afternoon.

I find that sleep has a direct impact on my mood. How can I sleep better?

Some sleep hygiene tips include a little wind down routine before bed like reading or a stress management technique that you enjoy. Try to avoid caffeine after noon if you can and no later than 5 hours before bed for sure. If you can, try to minimise the use of screens an hour before bed or at least use a blue light filter if you have one. You’ll get a better night’s rest if you sleep in a cool, dark room. These are just some of the tips that I’ve picked up over the years and I know that a lot of the people that I work with find this advice very helpful in their quest of more rest!

What are the benefits of being well rested?

There are many but for me, being well rested can positively enhance your mood, mental health, training, energy, it can reduce your stress levels, improve memory, concentration levels and not to mention aiding in proper metabolism function.

Do you sometimes struggle to nod off? As you've heard above, achieving a great quality of sleep and rest has many mental and physical benefits. We teamed up with Gym+Coffee investor and advisor, Niall Horan, to record a Guided Sleep Narration which can help give your mind something to focus on, while being delivered in a way that encourages sleep.

Listen to Niall Horan's Guided Sleep Narration here