Good Mornings, Hammer Curls, Strict Muscle-snatch w/ light bar
Row, Medball Situps (P: GHD Situps)
AN EXCELLENT ARTICLE ON ONE OF THE GREATEST GIFTS GIVEN TO MANKIND: SLEEP.
“We know sleep is imperative to health. But people seldom realize the extent it affects our recovery and susceptibility to injury.
The Benefits of Sleep
Precision Nutrition has a fantastic article all about sleep, and I highly recommend checking it out. Here’s a quick synopsis of the important points:
Effects on Weight Management: The average adult gets around seven hours of sleep each night. Studies have suggested that less than six hours, or more than nine hours a night, leads to weight gain compared to those who sleep 7-8 hours a night. People who sleep less than six hours a night are significantly more likely to be overweight or obese. It’s not clear why people who sleep more than nine hours a night have similar weight concerns.
Effects on Skill: During sleep, the body repairs damaged tissues, produces crucial hormones, and strengthens memories. This strengthening of memories helps you perform skills better after sleeping than if you had spent that time instead just practicing while awake.
Effects on Immunity: Have you ever noticed you tend to get more colds when you are run down? That’s because sleep also aids in immune response, allowing your body to create more white blood cells to fight harmful viruses and bacteria.
Sleep and Injury
There isn’t a ton of specific research on sleep and injury, but the relation between the two is starting to come to light. Most notable are a couple of studies conducted with youth athletes. One concluded that injury rates increased during games following a night of sleeping less than six hours. The other found that sleep was the strongest predictor of injuries, even more than hours of practice (read this piece for a full breakdown). Inadequate sleep was correlated to decreased reaction time under fatigue, as well as a diminished immune system, as discussed above. Decreased sleep also doesn’t give the body the time it needs to repair tissues. Over time this damage can lead to injury.
British researchers have been looking into the relationship between sleep and arthritis. In Britain, it was estimated that nearly two in three people with pain secondary to arthritis experience trouble sleeping. Researchers was always thought these sleep problems were caused by the pain, but recently they have discovered that it’s actually a two-way street. Sure, joint pain causes sleep disturbances, but sleep disturbances will actually make joint pain worse and accelerate joint damage. According to medical director of Arthritis Research UK, Alan Silman, “Pain induces lack of sleep and lack of sleep induces pain.”
4 Simple Ways to Improve Sleep Quality and Quantity
1. Make a Bedtime and Wakeup Routine
This one is simple. Creating a routine around sleep is so effective because it prepares you mentally and physically. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Your brain and body develop a natural circadian rhythm, and learn that sleep is the next thing that needs to happen.
My routine includes having a small snack about an hour before bed (usually celery and almond butter), followed by reading a fiction book (I get too involved in planning if I read a business or non-fiction book) for 30-60 minutes. When I wake up, I drink a full glass of water before getting in the shower, followed by breakfast at the dining room table to sit and relax before heading to work. This is what works for me, but you need to find what works for you. I know some people who swear by taking a hot shower before bed, and others who love to color. Try a few things out and see what works best for you.
2. Turn Off Electronic Devices One Hour Before Bedtime
The light emitted from our devices – computers, iPads, smartphones – messes with our natural circadian rhythm. Our bodies use light as a cue to know when we should be awake and when we should be asleep, and the light from these devices hinders our ability to produce important hormones that facilitate sleep.
3. Avoid Excessive Caffeine – Even in the Afternoon
The stimulant effects of caffeine last much longer than you might think. I recently started using a new app that tracks your caffeine intake and shows when you will be ready for sleep. The most interesting thing wasn’t when I was considered “ready” for sleep, but that I still had some caffeine in my system from the day before when I woke up in the morning. Consider this when you reach for your afternoon or evening coffee. Some research suggests that you should never drink caffeine past 2pm, but I opt for nothing after noon.2
Ask yourself these questions:
Do I have a regular routine for bedtime and waking up in the morning?
Do I turn off my electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime?
Do I avoid caffeine after 2pm in the afternoon?
If you answered “No” to any or all of these questions, you’re missing out on better sleep. Take a step today to improve. Your body and your mind will thank you.