I know many people who not only spend hours a day training, often also investing time planning out their own training plan (or pay to have an expert create their training program).
I know others who dedicate almost an entire day every week to meal prep, taking the time to plan out and prepare their meals to get the most out of everything they put into their bodies.
These are great things to do and it takes a lot of dedication! Training intensely (and intelligently) and prioritizing nutrition are of the utmost importance to reaching your performance and/or aesthetic goals.
But some of these same focused, hard-working individuals ignore one of the most important aspects of a healthy lifestyle: sleep.
During sleep body repairs and our CNS (Central Nervous System) recovers.
Without enough sleep, the CNS never fully recovers, so your next workout will tax you more than it should.
Repeat this cycle of “Train, Sleep too little, Repeat,” and you will eventually wear yourself out to the point of failure in some way, shape, or form.
Many people who talk about “over-training” are in reality talking about “under-recovering” and a lack of sleep is one of the main ways recovery is hindered.
If you’re interested in some detailed explanation of how not only sleep, but sleep cycles, impact recovery and performance, click here to read a great article by Travis Cooper.
So, it’s not really a secret. We all know sleep is beneficial. Most of us know when we haven’t gotten enough sleep. But so often the habits we have that affect our ability to get quality sleep are not addressed. While living with a newborn baby or working a 3rd shift job are things which will absolutely affect your ability to sleep well that you can’t immediately change, there are many things within our control that affect our sleep:
Everyone’s caffeine tolerance is different.
My husband can drink coffee in the mid-late afternoon and sleep well.
I, on the other hand, metabolize caffeine much more slowly so I can drink 3 cups in the morning without feeling any different than if I’d only had one. But, if I drink even half a cup of coffee after 12 noon the odds of my falling asleep before 12 midnight are pretty slim.
Know how your body reacts to caffeine and adjust your intake, both the amount and when you ingest it, accordingly. And, as a rule of thumb, less caffeine overall won’t hurt your chances of getting a better night’s sleep.
Turn off your damn phone.
And the same goes for your laptop, tablet, TV, etc.
Technology is great, but try to turn off your devices as early in the evening as possible so it’s easier for your mind and body to turn off for the night as well. Want more info? Check this out.
I mentioned nutrition above and just as it is important to eat properly around training sessions it is also important to eat the right way before you go to bed.
I will assume that since you are reading this article you know that eating processed foods is not good for your health in any way, shape, or form.
In addition, try to avoid eating a large meal or drinking excessive amounts of any type of fluid too close to going to bed. Just as with caffeine intake, everyone’s systems are different, so pay attention to what works for you.
Who You Sleep With
And I mean this is the most innocent sense.
Sometimes the person you sleep with is the biggest obstacle to your getting the ZZZs you need.
Even if your bed mate doesn’t snore, hog the covers, or give off excessive body heat, maybe the two of you just sleep best at different times.
This may sound like blasphemy to some, but if his best hours to sleep are 9pm-6am and hers are 11pm-7am then sleeping separately (at least on occasion) could lead to sleep like you’ve never imagined.
The majority of the population sleeps best at a room temperature 2-3 degrees cooler than what they find comfortable during their waking hours.
Just before you go to bed adjust your thermostat down a few degrees and see if it makes a difference for you.
It’s so simple, but when is the last time you replaced your pillow?
And, when you replaced it, how much did you spend on it?
In a world where women own pairs upon pairs of heels (or sneakers) it boggles my mind that most people aren’t willing to spend as much on a pillow as they are willing to spend on a pair of shoes- and you sleep on your pillow every night!
The above list is by no means all inclusive, but it gives you options that you can try out pretty easily.
Let us know what techniques you’re using to improve YOUR sleep- and your performance by association!