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Success Through Sleep

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There is always emphasis and focus on workouts, diet, and mobility. But when the topic of recovery is thrown around, often the term is generalized and overlooked. Everyone has felt the sluggish day of not enough sleep the night before. You can’t move, better yet, you don’t want to move. Your motivation is dragging more than your body, and the yawns keep coming all day.

Ask someone in the gym what they think of when you say Recovery, odds are the responses will be stretching, mobility, soft tissue work, ice baths, sauna, or taking a day off from training. Yet none of those other methods can compete with the power of sleep, when paired with correct nutrition and hydration.

Sleep Hygiene

Sleep Hygiene is defined as “the habits and practices that are conductive to sleeping well on a regular basis”. Just like body hygiene, you must focus on your overall health through the deliberate focus of sleep. We spend over a third of our lives sleeping, so why is it that maximizing on both quality and quantity of sleep is overlooked. When our body is broken down in the gym and through everyday stressors, sleeping helps repair tissue, regulate hormonal levels, and increase our body’s ability to use oxygen and process fuels during exercise. Sleep = improved strength, endurance, and power. Sleep = Best recovery and performance enhancement option to anyone.

Sleep Duration

Most of your day is already planned out, which should make your sleep schedule easier to program. The general rule of thumb for sleep, which is dependent on everyone, is 7-8 hours a night. An optimal amount of sleep for competitive athletes is 9-10 hours a night, yet you must take into consideration what is realistic.

Keep a sleep schedule by monitoring how many hours of sleep you get a night. There are multiple apps on the phone available that can help monitor your hours per night. If you don’t want to use an app, a general rule of thumb is, it roughly takes the average person 15 minutes to enter the first sleep stage from wakefulness, so whenever you decide to close your eyes, sleep more than likely began 15 minutes later.

Sleep Debt

It will not cut it if you get 3 or 4 days with 6 hours of sleep, and then sleep 10 hours on the weekend. Your sleep debt builds up each time you aren’t resting enough to recover from your day, and that sleep debt will roll over later into the week. By the time you’ve been in a 2-hour deficit for 4 days in a row, that’s 8 hours of sleep you’ve missed, which would be another night of sleep you would need extra, on top of your 10 hours of extra weekend rest. Naps can be a powerful tool in mitigating exhaustion due to lack of sleep, but its most important that you reach 3-4 sleep cycles of continuous, unbroken sleep each night.

7 Step Approach to Appropriate Sleep

These are the fool proof 7-step guide to better sleep quality and quantity. With these firm rules, you’ll be on your way to more successful recovery.

Step 1: Set a Bedtime

Set a time for yourself to go to bed and wake up, at the same time, every single day. It is a great way to get your circadian rhythm on sync with your sleep cycle, so you aren’t waking up in the middle of a deep sleep cycle and feel groggy.

Step 2: Sleep When Possible

If you have the option to get extra sleep due to a late work start or you have a break in your day where a nap would be possible, take it. You need to try and sleep as often as possible. Any chance you get to slowly chip away at your sleep debt will help your overall health in the long run.

Rule 3: Avoid Stimulants Before Bed

Do not consume any stimulants 2 or 3 hours before bed. This includes any caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, or any other chemicals that promote wakefulness.

Rule 4: Create a Sleep Environment

Turn your bedroom into a Sleep Cave. This means quiet and dark. Also, most people who have a hard time falling sleep will admit they look at blue light electronics before or in bed; T.V., Cell Phone light. When you have artificial light, it reduces your body’s ability to produce melatonin, which is responsibility for giving you that sleepy feeling at night and help you go to sleep.

Rule 5: Develop a Pre-Bed Routine

As you begin your decent into sleep, you should follow a routine that will help prepare your mind and body for rest. Examples are, reading, taking a shower/bath, stretching, meditating, drinking herbal tea, or anything that promotes relaxation. The goal here is daily repetition, just like smelling tasty food makes you hungry, so should your pre-bed routine make you sleepy.

Rule 6: Resist Late-Napping

I know previously I said you should nap as often as you can, but what is more important is getting full sleep cycles at night. Napping too late into the day can keep you awake at night. All that does is mess up your circadian rhythm and get your sleeping routine out of schedule.

Rule 7: Eat Smart Before Bed

Make sure not only are you eating a healthy, wholesome meal before bed, but it isn’t too close to bedtime. You don’t want to wake up in the middle of the night with carb cravings, just as you don’t want to wake up with hunger pangs. A good rule of thumb is, 1-2 hours leading up to your pre-bedtime routine; no spicy, sugary, or caffeinated foods. Generally anything that can upset your stomach is not good for rest.

Sleep is Recovery