One of the most overlooked and underappreciated tools for optimizing recovery and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is sleep. It may be the most powerful tool we have. Ultimately, sleep is a regulator for many functions that relate to our health. It regulates and maintains our hormonal system, nervous system, cardiovascular system and muscular system. Our sleep cycles through different sleep stages known as Rapid Eye Movement (REM) and Non- Rapid Eye Movement (NREM). Each stage provides varying health benefits to both our emotional and cognitive states. The amount of sleep required is highly variable and is dependant on the individual and their needs.
Sleep should be at the forefront of strategies to help optimize recovery from training loads. Below are 12 tips for improving sleep quality. We also have a recommended reading list (at the bottom of the page) for further education into the benefits of sleep. These tips are taken from the NIH article ‘12 Tips for Getting a Good Night Sleep’ Linked below.
- Stick to a sleep schedule – Aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day
- Try not to exercise too late in the day – Avoid exercising 2-3 hours before bed
- Avoid nicotine and caffeine before bed
- Avoid alcohol before bed – This may rob you of REM and NREM sleep
- Avoid large meals late at night
- If possible avoid medications that may affect your sleep
- Don’t take naps after 3pm
- Relax before bed. Make sure you schedule down time before nodding off
- Take a hot bath/shower before bed. The drop in body temperature after a hot bath helps to ease into a good nights rest
- Have a good sleeping environment – Try to minimize bright lights and sounds in and around your bedroom.
- Have the right amount of sunlight exposure during the day. Sunlight exposure helps your body’s regulate your sleep patterns. Aim for 30 minutes each day
- Dont lie awake in bed. If you are struggling to sleep at night, get out of bed and do something therapeutic like having a herbal tea or reading a book.
- Matthew Walker- Why we Sleep
- Renaissance Periodization – Recovering from training