When we want to work on our health and fitness, usually exercise and nutrition are the first things that come to mind. What may even be more important for your health goals, however, is sleep. We’ll invest lots of money and time in doctor’s visits, gym equipment, supplements, etc but rarely invest that amount of time and money in our sleep. Yet research shows that not getting enough quality sleep may be one of the most detrimental things you can do for your health and longevity. And while we could write pages upon pages about the benefits of quality sleep, the stages of sleep, and how to improve it, we only have time here to briefly touch on a few things that happen to your body when you get it, what happens when you don’t, and a couple of steps to get work on getting the sleep you need!
The Good Stuff
Sleep is like a magic pill for recovery. While you're snoozing, your body begins repairing and rejuvenating muscles and tissues that took a beating during intense CrossFit workouts. Growth hormone release peaks during deep sleep phases, promoting muscle recovery and growth, ensuring you wake up ready to tackle the next challenge.
Quality sleep is also when your body is most likely to burn through that stubborn fat you’ve been trying to lose. Guess what. You don’t pee out your fat. Youbreathe it out and it happens during quality sleep. If you’ve been struggling to lose weight, look at your sleep quality.
In addition to these, it will improve your insulin sensitivity, improve your immune system, has significant cognitive benefits, help suppress cortisol,and so many more.
Here’s a list of things you’re likely to see if you don’t get enough sleep:
· Your performance can decrease by 10% for each hour you get under 8 hours.
· Your risk for metabolic diseases increases.
· Your ability to focus and retain information will go down.
· You’re more irritable.
· It’s harder to lose weight.
· Risks for dementia and other neurological diseases increase.
We could go on, but you get the point.
So how much should I get and what should I do to improve my sleep? We recommend getting a MINIMUM of 7 hours. Eight to nine hours is better. Especially if you are doing CrossFit 4-5 times a week, your body needs that time to recover and rebuild.
If that is hard to do, here are a few things you can do:
· Sleep cold. Turn down the A/C or invest in something like the Chilipad.
· Make it dark. Use blackout curtains.
· Proper supplementation can help. Talk to your doctor about any new regimens here, but taking Magnesium and Zinc before bed can help your body better enter deep sleep cycles.
· No caffeine in the afternoon.
· Turn off screens at least 1 hour before bed.
· Take naps.
Again, there are a lot of other strategies to help improve your sleep, but these are some of the top ones to focus on. We’re happy to help coach anyone toward better sleep, so just let us know! If you’re really trying to boost your recovery efforts, sleep is the first place to start. The next…nutrition. We’ll go there next week. Happy sleeping!