Written by KStarr (aka Kelly Starret-Crossfit Sanfran)
OK athletes, time for yet another gut check. This time we are talking about sleep. So the last few days have found me with very little sleep, and because I’m obsessed with such things, I felt the need to discuss it with you.
Here goes: Sleep is important. Check. Obviously brain function is slightly (ironic tone) decreased with missing sleep. But how smart do you really need to be?
The real reason sleep matters is because all of the good hormones and growth factors that are released during the deep sleep, stage 3 and 4 periods. This is your body’s time of peak anabolic activity (build muscle, burn fat, repair tissues, etc.) and occurs throughout the night but with diminshing efficacy.
If you aren’t getting enough of this deep, quality sleep, chances are you aren’t optimizing recovery or performance. You are in fact creating stress hormones that are trying to kill you. And you face book and crossfit.com addicts, I’m talking to you.
Your body treats lack of sleep like a direct stressor, the same as starving, or being chased by a lion. So quit being so cavalier about your late nights and crappy sleep.
The goal is to get as much stage 3 and 4 sleep as possible. To this end, here are a few sleep hygene guidelines.
1) Try to go to sleep at the same time every night.
2) Avoid coffe and alcohol before bed.
3) Sleep in the blackest, darkest room possible.
4) Sleep in a cool room.
5) Treat your sleep as importantly as you treat your workouts and protein blocks.
Think of sleep as recovery. And recovery completes the exercise and nutrition trifecta.
Keep a sleep journal for a week. Track hours slept/bed time/awake time/ and note when and how much caffeine/alcohol was consumed before sleep. Also note how your performance was during the day. See any patterns? Are you trashed by the weekend.