Sleep. We love it when we get it but it's often the first thing to go when life happens. A quick nap here, 4 hours there, and we think we're caught up, but what is it really doing to our bodies over the long term?
How often do you pay attention to your sleep?
If you actually dive into the science and research on sleep it’s actually quite mind-blowing. Not only does the quality of sleep matter, but so does the quantity. And if performance is your goal, both sleep quality and quantity matter greatly. This performance goes for in the gym and out of the gym and can affect work, family, life, and how you perform and feel day to day.
“I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”
“Sleep is for the weak.”
“If I sleep less, I can work more.”
Sound familiar? We demonize sleep and believe it or not, it’s a terrible idea if you plan to live a long, healthy life.
Did you know the number of people who can survive on 5 hours of sleep or less without any impairment is zero? This impairment causes a decrease in performance. Being awake for 19 hours straight is the mental equivalent of being drunk. Drowsy driving really is drunk driving.
How much sleep do you really need?
It’s recommended you get 7-8 hours of sleep per night. If you’re an athlete, aim for 9-10 hours per night. Sure, you may miss a night here and there, but try to be consistent in your decision to get a good night's rest. Your body will thank you.
How can you ensure a good night sleep?
Make sure your bedroom is dark. Artificial light can send “wake up” messages to the brain. It can suppress the natural hormone that helps you fall asleep, melatonin.
Avoid lights from electronics at least 30 min before bed. Research has found exposure to blue light (or the light emitting from electronics) suppresses melatonin more than any other light. If it is necessary for you to be on electronics that late, consider a pair of blue light glasses which block blue light, allow you to settle down more quickly after.
Have a consistent bedtime schedule. Hit the pillow at the same time every night. Having a consistent bedtime and even wake schedule can help keep your circadian rhythm in check. What’s your circadian rhythm? This is a 24-hour internal clock that tells your body when to be alert and awake and when it’s time for bed. If you keep messing with the schedule you may be alert at times you wish you were sleeping and vice versa.
Sleep plays a big role in training and recovery and whether you're getting it or not can make all the difference. I understand you only have a certain amount of hours in the day, but get yourself to bed every night!