Tuesday, May 29th 2012

Quality rest vs. Quantity Rest For most of us these days optimal sleep on a consistent basis can be very hard to come by. Working with mainly the “careerist”, ultra ambitious corporate type of clientele, it is not uncommon to hear individuals trying to grind through a 10 hour work day, fit in a workout and have a social life on 4-5 hours of sleep. If crossfit has taught me anything, it is that quality rest and recovery is essential to make strength gains, feel and look optimally and live a balanced life. A fit life can be broken down into investing effort and balancing 3 simple areas on one’s life. 1. Healthy nutrition 2. Exercise 3. Quality Rest. If you think about, most of our health problems breed from a lack in one of these categories. For me personally, focusing on quality rest over the last few months did wonders for my strength gains, performance during WOD’s and hormonal balance. Even if you are that rare case that can get 8 hours of sleep, are those restful hours quality? or are you just lying awake, tossing and turning in bed for half of them. There is a big difference in how your body feels with quality rest, and laying half awake in bed for most of the night. Building in some solid night time habits can really help you enhance every hour you are able to make for sleeping. Here are some of my favorite tips combined from various health bloggers on how to improve your quality of sleep. 1) Get to Bed Earlier Go to bed by 10:30 or 11pm at the latest. Ideally you should be going to bed with the moon and rising with the sun. Since that’s not going to happen for most of us try to come as close as you can. 2) Cut the Lights Wind down and lower the lights after it gets dark. Bright, Yankee Stadium-like lights in the house will keep you stimulated and awake longer. Use the dimmer switch or light some candles. Make sure you don’t have any bright lights from your alarm clock or other devices visibly shining while you are sleeping as well. 3) Get Off the Computer by 8pm The light of a computer or TV screen will get you overstimulated and make it harder to sleep. It will also lower melatonin production and fry your pineal gland. 4) Read a Book They still make those, ya know. But it has to be something non stimulating (that won’t get your mind racing with ideas, etc.) like fiction or an autobiography. No training or biz or motivational books. 5) Take an Ice Bath or Shower Taking an ice cold bath or shower an hour before bed knocks you out pretty nicely. But I mean ICE COLD, as in this is not a comfortable experience in the least and shrinkage should be at an all time high. For that reason, if you plan on having sex that evening it’d be best to do it before the icy plunge. 6) Train Earlier in the Day If you have trouble sleeping you should train before 3pm. Training later seems to keep the majority of people with sleep issues up all night. Especially if you do CNS stimulating Renegade style workouts. 7) Get Some Sun Get 20-30 minutes of sunlight each day or get one of those goLITE’s by Phillips and use it for 15 minutes a day like I do during the winter. This will help improve your natural melatonin production. 8) Try Some Cool Mist A cool mist humidifier in your room can help you sleep better. 9) Get Rid of the TV The bedroom is made for sleeping, reading and sex. That’s it. Never have a TV in the bedroom. Instead try the Nightwave (http://www.nightwave.com/) , which I also use. 10) Eliminate the Electronics Ideally you want to have as few electronic devices as possible in the bedroom. This means computers, stereos, alarm clocks, etc. They should all be moved somewhere else, or at the very least- unplugged at night. 11) Can the Cell I repeat- the bedroom is for sleeping and sex. Never keep your cell phone in the bedroom. 12) Eat Earlier Try not to eat too close to bed time if this keeps you up. For me I need at least two hours between my last meal or I don’t sleep as well. Experiment with different timing and see what works best for you. 13) Eat Carbs at Night One of the main reasons for this is that carbs during the day tend to tire you out. Better off saving them for the night time when you want that effect. 14) Get it On Have sex an hour or so before going to bed. This is preferably done with another person as your hand doesn’t seem to produce the same knockout effect. Longer duration, high intensity cardio type sessions can also have the opposite effect and keep you up for a few more hours, so keep it short and sweet if you want to get the deepest sleep possible. 15) Dinner Time Eat dinner earlier. Usually a late dinner correlates to falling asleep later. Train Hard, Eat Clean, Sleep Well! -Bomber