Over the past couple of weeks we talked about a few things that help you recover outside the gym. That is important because in the gym we actually break our bodies down. It’s whenever we leave the gym that our bodies begin to rebuild itself stronger. That is if we give it its proper recovery. And one of the, if not the most, important recovery tool is sleep. How can sleeping better help us get our bodies stronger?
Sleep helps us with many areas of health: heart rate variability, brain function, cell regeneration, inflammation maintenance, memory enhancement, etc. For all of that to happen, we need 7 to 9 hours of sleep. Furthermore, we need about 5 sleep cycles. So it’s not just a matter of quantity, but also of quality. And most of us get neither.
Here’s a few things you can do to improve your sleep:
1. Only use the bedroom to sleep and to….You know.
A lot of us have the habit of going to bed but not actually going to sleep. We lie down to start our sleep routine but we also watch a little tv, or do a little work, browse social media and maybe even eat a snack.
The problem is that we want the action of lying in bed to be synonymous with sleeping. Our bodies learn behaviors quickly and if you are spending a lot of time doing stressful stuff in bed, we don’t learn to relax when we are on it.
2. Get your sunlight.
We might not be cavemen anymore, but our bodies aren’t that different from our old ancestors. Many of the same mechanisms stuck around. One of these mechanisms is our response to light. The more light we get during the day, the more tired we get when the sun sets. On the other hand, the more light we get at night, the worse our sleep gets.
Enter, the circadian rhythm. If your internal clock is on point, you should wake with the sun, feel the most energetic in the morning, start to wind down as the sun sets and sleep when it’s dark out. Work schedules, technology, social life and stress all contribute to our inability to soak in natural light and be bombarded by artificial light.
3. Hack your sleep environment.
While we sleep, our sleep environment affects both the quantity and the quality of sleep we get. It does that through our senses. What we feel on our skin, what we see, what we hear and maybe even what we smell can disrupt or enhance our sleep. So to make it simple, keep in dark, cold and noisy.
4. Limit water and food intake.
Getting a quality night of sleep means feeling comfortable in bed. Having a nice meal a couple of hours before bed, and drinking the appropriate amount of water throughout the day should let you feel relaxed in bed. Limiting our food and water intake can keep us from feeling too energized, full and it will keep the bathroom trips to a minimum.
Want to improve your fitness? Sleep better. If you need help with recovery, or any other aspect of your fitness, come chat with one of your Celebration CrossFit coaches today!
By Coach Matt