At Celebration CrossFit we spend a lot of time focusing on training, fitness and conditioning. We spend countless hours trying to create the best program, environment and intensity to really make a change in your life. Then you come to the gym and pour your heart and sweat on the floor, you get a great workout in and can’t wait to see the results. But, we all know that fitness, and health, are more than just the training you put in. We also know nutrition is very important in keeping you healthy, but something that we not always talk about is how we recover. The most important recovery factor is your sleep.

It is not uncommon to see people lacking sleep in today’s society, either in quantity or quality. That not only is a health concern, but it can also mess with the gains you work so hard for at the gym. Besides the lack of sleep, many things can affect the quality of your sleep. Bright lights, tv’s and smartphones and even working out are all a form of stress and stimulation. So even if you do get a full night’s sleep, you might fully recover. If that’s the case, you will see the consequences throughout the day: less energy, loss of focus, increased period of soreness, increase in chances of injuries, and even other health-related issues.

So, if you want to improve your recovery (as well as improve your mood, athletic performance and concentration throughout the day), here are a few tips on how to nurture your sleep:

  • Start to dim the lights as the sun goes down.

Our bodies are in rhythm with the sun and the moon. We are naturally more awake when the sun is highest (more cortisol during the morning) and we start to slow down as the sun sets (melatonin levels peak mid-night). It takes time for the body to wind down and get into ‘rest mode’. By keeping bright lights on and looking at tv’s and other screens we delay the slow down of our body and mind.

  • Start a night ritual.

Humans are animals of habit. We can condition ourselves to be sleepy at a certain time, and to get up at a certain time. The way to achieve that is to have a night ritual. A sequence of steps you take every night leading up to lying in bed ready to sleep. Obviously it’s hard to keep that ritual every night, as we emphasize late night as prime time for some activities (professional games, movie times, parties, etc.). But as long as you establish a rhythm for night-time recovery, a little variation is okay!

  • Keep the bed for bed-only activities.

Like I mentioned above, we are creatures of habit. The bed, and bedroom, should be your relaxing place. If you eat, watch tv, play games or do work-related activities in bed it will stop feeling like the comfy resting place it should be. Laying in bed should condition you to think “it’s time to sleep”.

  • Manage stress.

Probably the toughest and most complicated form of improving sleep. But going to bed with random thoughts in mind, making you worried, are definitely not helping you wind down. We all manage stress differently but there are a couple of things you can try if you feel yourself constantly surrounded by stressful thoughts. Meditation, deep breathing and journaling are some ways you can get rid of those worries and be able to finally rest.

By sleeping better you will not only feel better every morning, but you will also improve your physical performance, muscle growth and fitness measures. If you workout 7 hours a week, more than 85% of your total week hours are spent outside of the gym. All that time matters. Make sure you are taking care of your sleep and it will take care of you.

by Coach Matt