Ask yourself, “how much sleep do I get a night?” Be completely honest! If there’s one thing most take for granted, it’s sleep. We all want to cram in as much activity as we can and sometimes our own personal health takes a hit because of it. This isn’t a bad thing initially, but over time lack of sleep will add up.
Let’s start by dividing this up into categories:
- How much do I need?
- Why is this important to my recovery?
- How much is too much or too little?
- Napping and how much is appropriate.
Fact: Sleep affects how we function. On average, sedentary individuals require around 7 hours of sleep per night, while active individuals require 8 to 10.
When restricting sleep (2+ hours less per night), most people will generally experience mood disturbances, poor cognitive functioning, fatigue, tension, poor motor control, and elevated stress levels. This can lead to a slower rate of development and an inability to perform technical tasks (like a snatch) at a proper level.
Try this: take seven days and sleep 8 to 9 hours per night and see how you feel, but don’t change anything else about your daily routine. Then try staying up all night with only 3 hours of sleep and see how this affects you.
We also need to be consistent with both sleep and wake cycles, which I understand can be challenging. If you go to bed at 9:30 p.m. and wake at 5:30 a.m. during the weekday, then on the weekends it switches to 11 p.m. and wake at 9 a.m., the body will react negatively in terms of being fully rested.
Down-regulation (what you do before bed) is important to how quickly, efficiently, and deeply we fall asleep. A lot of us have our phones nearby... checking emails or our Instagram feed. This isn’t wrong - but think about the potential effects this has.
Example: before bed you get an email about something you were supposed to do at work and happen to forget, this raises your anxiety, which increases your stress hormones, and triggers the fight or flight response (check out our post from last week on Stress). Now, you’re wide awake, only thinking about how shitty tomorrow is going to be, which is getting in the way of your sleep.
This week try reading a book or focus on nasal breathing. This will help the parasympathetic nervous system (aka the rest and digest system) kick on, and your body will better conserve energy, meaning you'll dive into a deeper sleep.
Napping is a great idea for someone that needs a little extra jolt to get through the day. A true nap really only requires ~20 minutes (not 4 hours). Here’s a brief protocol that I highly recommend trying:
- Caffeine (optional, but highly recommended)
- 15 to 20 minutes
- A quiet space
- "Nothing much happens" podcast (optional, but I also highly recommend this as it gives you something to focus on and she does a great job telling stories)
For me, I may briefly fall asleep or fall in and out of being asleep. What they find is that this dedicated time can help raise alertness and cognitive functioning within just 20 minutes of resting.
Next week I’ll dive into training and the approach to warm ups, cool downs, and what to do at home - as well as the day’s you take off from the gym!
- Coach Anthony