Think back to the last time you had a great night's sleep and how wonderful it felt when you woke. Pretty amazing I’m assuming? Let me guess, you felt refreshed, energized, happy, positive, and so on and so on. So why is it that we’re so unwilling to put in the effort to maximize this feeling/reward more often?
The average adult needs 7-9 hours of sleep, yet less than 50% of Americans get 7+ hours of sleep, specifically on weekdays (typically our busiest days). Now I know what you’re going to say, I don’t have time or I operate just fine on 5-6 hours of sleep. Let’s cut the crap, it’s simply not true. Just as you have prioritized and made the investment in your nutrition and workouts, a similar effort is going to be needed to increase your missing superpower, sleep!
Quality sleep has been shown to increase cognitive performance, productivity, maximize athletic performance, regulate blood sugar, and increase mood among others. While poor quality sleep has been linked to increased inflammation, higher body weight and weight gain, increased calorie intake, greater risk of heart disease and stroke, depression, and impaired immune function.
Similar to your nutrition and your workouts, you need to find what works for you. Just because it works for someone else, does not mean it’s 100% fail-proof for everyone. Here are some tips to help you increase your quality and quantity of sleep:
Stop the blue light. Artificial light or blue light has been shown to disrupt your circadian rhythm by suppressing melatonin, the hormone that tells your brain it’s time to sleep. Turn off your phone, tv, and computer two hours before bedtime. Instead read a book, write in a journal, or listen to a sleep podcast or calming music.
Block outside light. Similar to artificial blue light, sunlight triggers our internal clock to wake and cease melatonin production. Make your room as dark as possible. Purchase blackout curtains to help eliminate outdoor light.
Skip the afternoon soda or coffee. Find yourself reaching for that afternoon caffeine boost? It typically takes the body 6-10 hours to process caffeine. So, if consumed too close to bedtime, we’re asking for sleep disruption. Instead, get a quick afternoon workout or stretch, and make your water your go-to drink.
Stay consistent. We all know those people that can wake up without an alarm clock. It’s because their body is programmed. Going to bed and waking up at the same time will increase your sleep consistency and attentiveness during the day.
Keep it cool. Setting your thermostat to 65-72 degrees has been shown to be the ideal temperature to induce sleep and maintain consistent sleep cycles.
As mentioned above, these are all tips or tricks to help you increase your quality and quantity of sleep. But, you must find what works best for you. Placing a priority on your recovery will elicit great results from the work you're putting in in the gym!