Whether you are performing on the field or in the boardroom, it is important to always be at your best when it counts. We are all familiar with the benefits associated with exercise and nutrition; but the missing element to maximize fitness and recovery is sleep. Throughout our day, we are constantly assaulted with physical and mental stressors that wear us down. These stressors add up, and by the day’s end, our body reaps the opportunity to repair the damage done with deep restful sleep, making us stronger than before. If you are not sleeping well your body is breaking down rather than rebuilding itself. Any interruption to our sleep cycle can have both short and long term implications that could lead to physical and emotional burnout, weight gain, injury, and decreased cardiac resiliency. In fact, just one night of poor sleep quality can make you as insulin resistant as a Type-2 diabetic. This can spell disaster for that weight loss diet that just seems to never work!
When you’re sleep deficient, you deprive your brains frontal cortex of glucose which is required for healthy function. This is the center for control, willpower, and decision-making. You essentially get a little dumber with every sleepless night. This is enough to add a few seconds to your 40-yard dash time, miss that critical putt, or mishandle that important meeting. However, by making the right life choices and correcting poor sleep habits, you too can reverse the unwanted health effects of a sleepless night. Take your training, recovery, mental and physical performance to the next level by following the tips below to amplify your amount of high quality restful sleep and achieve your maximal potential.
“Nutrition is important… exercise and movement is important, but with only two legs on the stool, it’ll tip over. That third pillar is sleep.” -Shawn Stevenson
Tips to optimize sleep:
- Get more sunlight during the day. This will stimulate your body’s natural production of melatonin.
- Avoid screens before bed. The artificial light emitted by electronic screens trigger your body to produce daytime hormones.
- Cut the caffeine. Caffeine is a powerful nervous system stimulant and should be used sparingly after 4pm.
- Keep it cool. The ideal temperature for sleep is around 68 degrees.
- Get to bed at the right time. Significant hormonal secretions and recovery occur by sleeping during the hours of 10pm-2am.
- Black out your bedroom. Experts suggest that your room be so dark that you can’t see your hand in front of your face.
- Ditch the hangover. Alcohol can disrupt your ability to fall into deeper levels of sleep and limit physical and mental recovery.
- Train hard (but smart). Exercise in the morning to spend75% more time in the deep, rejuvenating stages of sleep.
If you are interested in learning more about sleep I suggest checking out Shawn Stevenson’s book “Sleep Smarter” for further information.