Sleep: The Vital Component of Any Training Program
Want to know what could enhance your athletic performance? Aid in getting results you have been working so hard for? Help muscle recovery and repair? Decrease injury and chronic health risks? Has numerous benefits that can enhance your everyday life and is free and healthy!?
Drum roll pleasssseee…
SLEEP! Sleep scientist & professional Sports Advisor Dr Cheri Mah, who has worked with multiple high profile athletes across the NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL, recommends every adult should get a minimum of 7hrs of sleep, and athletes 8-10hrs.
In the pursuit of your goals, you may focus on training and nutrition, however don’t neglect the recovery element of training. Sleep, along with other rest and recovery practices, is implemented into training regimes by athletes to optimize their peak performance.
The goal is to maximise our training results through sufficient rest and recovery to prevent plateaus, over-training and exhaustion.
Training places physiological stress and demand on the body. This is when our bodies then need to rest and recover for training adaptations to take place (ie: increased strength, weight loss, reaction time etc). The manner in which we respond to stress is best described by Hans Selye with the General Adaption Syndrome (GAS).
During sleep our bodies go through recovery processes that is vital for any training program. Even if you are not an elite athlete, it’s essential to have healthy sleep habits that include adequate sleep duration, sleep quality and timing of sleep, not only for your training but for your health.
So how can we implement some lifestyle changes to improve our sleep health?
We can create a nightly ritual!
Below are a couple of tips recommended by the National Sleep Foundation that can help get you that shut eye earlier & have a deeper, longer sleep!
Avoid electronics in the bedroom or turn them off 1 hour before sleep time.
Make your room dark by heavy blackout curtains or eye masks.
Keep it cool. Room temperature should be around 15-20 degrees Celsius
Practice Meditation and or deep breathing techniques
Avoid caffeine at least 6 hours prior to bedtime
Develop a sleep pattern. Go to sleep and wake up the same time each day. Your body clock (circadian rhythm) will program itself to be tired and alert at the right times
Create a nightly ritual that works for you and add in your own personal flare that you know will help you to wind down and switch off. Do not underestimate the importance of transitioning your mind and body to prepare for rest.
Some of my personal nightly ritual:
Make your room a sanctuary. Create a peaceful and relaxing sleep environment
Invest in super comfy sheets, pillow, mattress to optimize the experience
Use candles for dimmed lighting
Put a couple of drops of lavender essential oil on your pillow or diffuser
Have a cup of chamomile or sleepy time herbal tea
Write down my to do list for the next day (switch off)
Listen to relaxing ambience music or self guided meditation
Lavender scented eye mask
Do not eat a heavy meal within 1-3 hours of of bed time
Have a relaxing candle lit bath
Athletes enforce these recommendations to maximize their game, so why don’t we incorporate these tips to maximize our life and of course training programs and consequently results! Set boundaries for yourself and respect your bedtime! You can't expect to get those gym gains and live a happy, healthy life without taking care of yourself. Listen to your body, nurture it. Do not neglect sleep. Do not ignore it. Sleep is essential. FULLSTOP!