I believe this is the most overlooked and under managed aspect of any beginner to health and fitness or regular exercise. Think about it, sleep affects everything you do internally and externally even down to your self-talk and mental state, especially when it comes to exercise and healthy eating. It sounds obvious but all the time I see poor food choices or low training intensity or frequency put down to “motivation” or discipline when in actual fact that person is running on 5 hours of broken sleep in a high stress lifestyle where they are on their phone or responding to emails every waking minute. It’s like never getting your car serviced then being angry when it breaks down.
So, we’re here today to cover how to get the most out of your sleep and make it a really valuable and measurable aspect of your training and progress.
The very first step is changing the way you view sleep in regards to your progress towards your goal, it needs to be held in the same regard as food, water and exercise it’s that important. You wouldn’t expect to lose weight or have a great run or do well in any aspect of training if you haven’t eaten anything or haven’t exercised at all for the week. So how can we expect ideal results or to nail our plan when we’re starting with a disadvantage?
Step two, create a routine, think about every successful area of your life, chances are it has a routine a structure built into it. Our sleep pattern and pre bed routine should be no different, the more consistent, the better, if we expect our output and results to be consistent, we need our rest and recovery to be as well. Bedtime, wake time and amount of time spent asleep is a great place to start.
Step three, eliminating stimulus that may interrupt quality of sleep. Make sure your bedroom is dark and screen time is limited before bed, limiting the amount of blue light in the hours before sleep will help increase melatonin production, one of our body’s sleep hormones. Stress is another factor that if we can keep to a minimum will have large effect.
Step four, going to the bathroom before going to sleep and eliminating any other factors that might interrupt a steady night’s sleep making sure we get into our deepest level of sleep, REM is crucial to getting the most out of your time asleep. A bonus point on recovery when waking up making sure you drink at least 500ml of water to start the day will make sure you are in a good place with regards to your hydration. This can be built into our wake/sleep routines that we spoke about earlier.
A finishing thought that might help adjust your perspective on sleep and recovery as a whole. Training or any exercise in general is at its simplest form just a stimulus for your body to improve a particular area or function the desired change that were after only happens when recovering so it really doesn’t matter how hard or frequently you train if you’re not recovering from it you’re demanding your body to change without giving it the required tools to do so.
If the effects of a good night’s sleep were put in a pill you could take it would be so good it would be illegal. But it’s not you have full access to these effects should you chose to make them a priority and better yet they’re free! So, if you want better performance seek a better sleep and better recovery in general.