Let’s get the obligatory sleep post out of the way shall we? I am not going waste a ton of time talking about why we need sleep – we are all enlightened and overeducated and know what we are supposed to do. WHY the heck don’t we just do it?
“I need time to unwind after my day.” “I don’t have to get up in the morning.” “I can’t fall asleep that early.” Believe me, I’ve been there. If I’m being honest, the 3 hours of television may have provided a little “shut-off” time but I felt just as unfulfilled and dissatisfied after turning it off. AND I had missed out on beneficial relaxation time and sleep. An effective training program and instructor will stress sleep’s importance and role in athletic performance, hormonal regulation and overall function. What are your goals? Improved body composition? Regulated energy levels? Faster recovery so you can keep kicking butt? Put the deer antler down and do this first.
Ok, so practical application time! Here are the most effective practices I have witnessed personally and in others that dramatically improve stress levels, recovery, and overall balance.
This one was so life changing, I’m giving it a separate post later this week. For now, start wrapping your mind around an evening “wind-down” routine that will prepare you for sleep. Imagine you are about to get a 60-minute massage and you run in already late, it was cold outside, you’re stressed about a project you haven’t done enough work on…you start getting your wonderful rub on with Mr. Gabriel…and it takes 30 minutes until you’re even in a mental and physical place to get a benefit. I believe we too often treat sleep the same way. If we want full advantage of the amazing things that happen with a good night’s sleep, we have to prepare for it just like anything else worth having.
Shoot for 7-9 hours.
Everyone is different and may require more or less but that is a great start. If you’re a late bird, you don’t have to add 3 hours on your first night. Start by going to bed 30 minutes earlier and build yourself up in increments. The key is to start moving yourself towards relaxing earlier, so you have time to wind down and fall asleep. Read a book you media-crazed Americans.
Kick the blue light habit before bedtime.
Don’t even climb into bed with that last minute work and think you can get away with a little blue light. This is a HARD one to kick but imagine a world where you know you cannot work on your computer late into the night – you are forced to be more productive during set aside work hours – all of a sudden instead of rushing home after training, cooking dinner, getting on the computer looking up and seeing it’s 10:00pm, you eat a leisurely meal, take a shower, get ready for bed, turn the lights down low, listen to soothing music…which scenario is more conducive to rest?
Blackout your room.
Not dark. I mean pitch black, so you can’t even see your hand in front of your face. Any ambient light will prevent you from producing melatonin, falling asleep and sleeping as deeply. Keep the temperature cool and if you don’t start looking forward to hitting your cave at night you can send me evil cat memes.
I had to transition into a set sleeping routine from my bout with stress-induced insomnia with a little help, as do many others. I found a few natural supplements helpful for this transition and for recovery. Melatonin will help you fall asleep faster and sleep deeper. Everyone has different responses however, so start with a low dose such as 1mg. Many people also enjoy an herbal product called Deep Sleep. I no longer take any aids for sleep, however I do highly recommend Advocare’s Nighttime Recovery and Magnesium Oil (topical magnesium provides best absorption) for help with recovery. I wake up ready crush the world.
Alright people, that’s a start! Have a wonderful evening and see ya in Dreamland! Well, hopefully not…that would be creepy. Don’t tell me if you do.