The reality of training is if you are not resting and recovering correctly you are likely wasting a lot of your efforts.
It is difficult to change the amount of time we have for sleep but we certainly can start to improve the quality of our sleep.
What are some ways to improve quality of sleep?
DO NOT do any of the following:
- Have caffeine after the early afternoon
- Eat a big meal or have alcohol within 3 hours of when you intend to go to bed
- Take long naps during the day – sometimes it’s unavoidable, but try to keep them under 30 minutes to avoid throwing your biological clock off. Taking long naps can have a similar effect on the body as jet lag.
- Wake up early to do a workout and keep yourself from getting enough sleep – you are moving backwards, not forwards. The body needs sleep like it needs water. You wouldn’t deprive yourself of water so you could work out, right? Of course not, because it would be counterproductive.
- Watch anything on an electronic screen right before bed – these screens emit blue light, which essentially inhibit production of melatonin and prevent sleep. If you need to watch tv, etc…before bed then buy a pair of blue light blocking sunglasses for a few dollars and wear them while watching. You’ll notice the difference in sleepiness right away.
DO all of the following
- Eat better – better nutrition helps sleep, and sleep in turn helps the metabolism. It’s a cycle, and to maximize the benefits of nutrition and sleep you need to do both well.
- Give up smoking or any other form of tobacco
- Try to do your WODs in the late afternoon or early evening (finishing the workout before 7:30pm if possible). Your circadian rhythms prime your body for peak performance during this time. In contrast, early morning and late at night are the circadian rhythm low points for performance. If you do multiple workouts in a day try to put the hardest one in the late afternoon or early evening and avoid doing any workouts too early or too late in the day.
- When you get a particularly hard WOD or WODs in during a day or even over the course of a week or a month, be sure to get extra sleep during that time to maximize your gains.
- Keep your room dark, quiet and cool at night. Light, hot temperatures, and noise can disrupt sleep patterns and cause you to sleep poorly.
MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL, GET A GOOD SLEEP SYSTEM!
- What is a sleep system? It’s a mattress, adjustable foundation, and pillow.
WHAT SHOULD YOU LOOK FOR IN A GOOD SLEEP SYSTEM?
- A mattress made of primarily natural materials – synthetics, including urethane and memory foam, may emit harmful VOCs that create an unhealthy environment around the bed.
- A mattress that creates airflow from top to bottom – airflow keeps you cool at night. A cool sleeping environment helps you sleep better and undisturbed.
- A mattress with softness/firmness that you can customize to fit your personal needs.
- An adjustable foundation with head and foot adjustability to allow you to adjust into any relaxation or sleeping position you like. Ideally the foundation would have a massage feature to help break up lactic acid buildup and improve circulation while you are resting.
- A pillow that is as soft/firm and thick/thin as you like it to be.
WHY IS A GOOD SLEEP SYSTEM SO IMPORTANT? CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING:
- Disruption of sleep, be it tossing and turning or actually waking up, throws off your sleep patterns and deprives you of the true benefits of sleep. Many people wake up and toss and turn because they sleep on an uncomfortable sleeping surface that cuts off circulation to their muscles during the night.
- You spend 1/3 of your entire life in bed – make an investment and sleep on something that will have a positive impact on your health and athletic performance.
- Athletes and anyone with sleep apnea will find an adjustable foundation with the ability to adjust the mattress surface to a zero gravity position is perfect for sore muscles and relaxing before or even during sleep.