Why is Sleep so Important?
Let’s wake up and talk about sleep and recovery.
Sleep is another one of those necessary things that we all try to short cut and squeeze more time out of our day by doing less of it. We sleep about a third of our lives, so that should tell you how important it is.
When we shortcut sleep, what really happens is we get less out of our day, and we would have been better off getting more sleep. So what does sleep do for us?
Sleep keeps you healthy by reducing stress and inflammation.
Sleep makes you stronger as your muscles rebuild overnight.
Sleep allows you to be alert during the day for focused work, sharper concentration, improved attention, and better decision making.
Sleep increases your energy, and boosts your immune system, your mood, and your memory.
Should we keep going?
Sleep helps you maintain a healthy weight.
It regulates your day and night schedule.
It can help you be more creative.
Sleep makes your skin glow.
It even boosts your fertility.
And all that equals a longer life span!
Have you ever regretted getting extra sleep when you needed it?
Most people could use extra sleep, so most people don’t mind when they get it. Most people are actually craving it, and if you put it off long enough, your body and brain will say “That’s enough!”, and then you’ll end up asleep anyway.
You may as well figure out how to use sleep as an ally, instead of an enemy.
When you sleep, your brain gets to rest, refresh, and reorganize all the tasks, skills, and memories you worked on consciously and subconsciously all day. During this time you also regulate stress hormones, inflammation, and blood sugar.
Also, your cells repair during sleep. That means you build up from the damage you did all day. Some of that damage was good, like strength training or cardio work, but it was still damage, and it still needs to be repaired. Some of that damage was bad, like trauma or injury, and that needs repairing of course. Sleep is the time for that.
During sleep your body increases hormones that are important for muscle repair and nerve rejuvenation. Your adrenals relax, your liver detoxifies, and your immune system is boosted, all during sleep.
Unfortunately, many people don’t even know what fully rested feels like. Many people live in a sleep deprived state and never fully reach their potential as they are always playing catch up.
Imagine what it would feel like if you actually got the amount of sleep that is required for your body to perform at it’s best. That does’t just mean your muscles either. That means your brain, your digestion, your hormones, your sensation, and everything else your body does. Sleep improves all parts of human function.
Now that we are positive that sleep is good and is not a waste of our time, how do we get good sleep?
Here are some basic tips that help your body get into a restful state:
Have a sleep routine. Help your body and mind plan for a night of sleep by being consistent with how you get ready. We are habitual creatures, and having a pre sleep habit is helpful.
Wind your body and mind down as you get ready for sleep. That means minimizing stimulus toward the hours leading up to sleep. No challenging or frustrating tasks, no difficult conversations, no screen time (screens rapidly flash at an unnoticeable rate, but it is still stimulating to your brain, and yes that means your phone too).
No stimulants in the hours leading up to sleep. Taper your caffeine into the evening if you drink caffeine all day. Don’t chase your dinner with an energy drink. A small dessert is ok as long as it’s not right before bed. Even alcohol acts as a stimulant that may keep you restless.
Have a dark and cool environment. Your body and mind prefer complete darkness at night. Even the lights on your clock can be enough to disrupt your sleep. You body temperature drops when sleeping too, so play along and turn the heat down slightly before bed.
Have clothes and bed covers that keep you comfy. If you’re sweaty, you won’t sleep well. If you’re frigid, you won’t sleep well. Unless you live in an area where the temperature is the same all year, you should have different sheets and pillowcases for different seasons.
Wake up at the same time everyday. Even if it’s your day off, you are better off being consistent rather than sleeping three hours later than normal.
This list is just a few examples of ways to be consistent with your routine. You can find many other tactics, but this is a great spot to start.
In the next post, we will talk about sleep positioning, and how you can make your night more comfortable by using your pillows the right way, and by bringing a small towel to bed to help. #snowbeastperformance