Happy Humpday all and welcome back to this series of post on how get your fitness journey started. To recap what we’ve covered; we have your strength training routine from part 1 and some movements to help you get started. In part 2 we talked about food and a bit about the mindset when you are formulating your eating plan. Those aren’t the only bricks that will form your fitness path though. There’s others that are definitely not talked about enough, but should be. Today we are going to discuss Sleep and Rest. I actually posted on this too long, compiling others work and trying to sum it up, so today I’ll keep it fairly straight forward. Yes, I did borrow some stuff from that post, why fix what isn't broken, right?
As most of you know, or at least won’t be surprised to find out, the U.S. sucks at being healthy and really sucks at getting proper sleep in. Is there a relation between those two facts? I’d bet the house on ‘Yes’. We are averaging less than 6 hours of sleep accross the board, now sometimes this happens, but that’s the thing, it should just be a sometimes thing. Not a every day of your life for the last 10 years thing. OK, sorry, now that I’ve shamed you I’ll try to help you with why and how.
Suffice to say there’s a couple things that contribute to your health when it comes to sleep. Stress is reduced when you have proper sleep, and let’s be real, it seems everyone is in a constant state of stress these days. With that drop in stress the hormones in your body can do their jobs better at regulating your systems. Also, it’s simple math, less time awake means you have less of a chance to consume in calories.
Some of you are maybe saying to yourself, “I only get 5.5 hours of sleep during the week, but I sleep in on weekends”. That my friends, is a dangerous game to play. There are some studies that show that it’s not a terrible method, but here’s the problem. Many of you are probably “sleeping in” because you had a late night, and you still probably only slept for 5-6 hours. Especially those of us that enjoy our adult beverages, that sleep time was 100% garbage sleep, and we’ll get more into that in a minute.
Here’s 3 steps to nudge you in the direction of getting a more restful sleep
1. Watch the alcohol and caffeine intake- Yes, I drink my share of both, but we have to be smart about it. Drinking coffee like it’s going out of style and/or going on a bender every other night has a host of health problems outside of impacting our sleep. Caffeine after 12 PM (some say 2, I say 12 to be safe) is going to keep that brain ticking way longer than you want it to. Alcohol needs to process 100% before you can actually get into a deep sleep, so when you’re slugging them back until 3 AM, wave bye-bye to getting any actual sleep (even if you do shut your eyes for an extended period). Keep it to 1 or 2 drinks if you’re planning on getting some good sleep that night.
2. Get into as much of a bedtime routine as you can- Not only am I talking about getting your body into a routine in terms of what time it’s going to sleep and waking up, but also what you do shortly before and shortly after. Start shutting down 30 minutes before, get the lights down (screens included). If you have something on your mind that’s going to bug you like hell until you do it, write it all down on a piece of paper, then you’ll get it out of your mind. When you wake up, don’t just lay there hitting the snooze button, get up! There’s something about “sleep inertia” or a term similar, that basically says laying back down only makes you more tired, so just get the heck up and start the day.
3. Go to bed earlier- Why in the heck people are into this whole, staying awake late every night, even though I was tired 2 hours ago, type of thing is beyond me. When you are tired your body is trying to tell you something, so don’t fight it, that something is…TIME TO SLEEP! I’ve heard this on probably 10-12 different occasions in my time as a coach, many sleep experts out there believe that because of the way our bodies natural rhythm works, every hour slept before midnight is worth two after. I’m pretty sure there’s not a ton of research (or a way to measure it even) out there, but it seems to make sense, and works from my perspective at least.
Now then, next time you are wondering why you are tired and need to rely on an IV of caffeine to get yourself through your day, maybe consider the stuff I talked about here today. Get that magic 7-9 hours of sleep more often (without extra chemicals ticking through your head) and you’ll start to notice things being less groggy. Tune in tomorrow where we talk about something closely related to this, stress, hooray! Until next time Team First XV, go out there and get after it.
Jarrod Dyke, CSCS