why having a consistent bedtime matters

Do you remember in college when you could pull an all nighter cramming for an exam and go about your day in a haze just to go out drinking and partying the next night because you had serious FOMO? That was who I was and, to be honest with myself, still am at times. I’ve always loved sleep, I just knew I could do without because I am “strong" right? Well as it turns out I’m just like everyone else, and the body needs what the body needs. 

I started my fitness journey about 6 years ago. Like many, it was highly unfocussed to start, and I just went to the gym with no goal in mind, but I showed up. Slowly, through personal training, research, and just trying things out I have come a long way in the 6 years since I started.

Last year for my 40th birthday my sister bought me a fitness tracker that also tracks sleep. I already wore a fitness tracking watch but this one was a bit more specific for it’s metrics of recovery and physical load on your system. I didn’t expect much out of it, but after about 6 months of wearing the thing diligently I started to realize I was changing most of my behaviors based on what the data was showing me. I can share with you these things that we all know to be true but, I chose not to believe.

 

1) Recovery is not ONLY taking a day off from the gym, but also how much rest you give your body in the form of nutrients, mindfulness, and quality sleep.

2) Alcohol directly affects recovery due to sleep quality (Resting heart rate, heart rate variability, respiration rate).

3) Sleep quality is directly related to consistency. Number 3 on this list has only recently come in to focus for me which is why I decided to take Rhone’s March sleep challenge. I knew I was lacking in one area and that was consistency of my sleep schedule. I had dialed back my alcohol consumption, I had dialed in my diet (mostly), but yet I was still not getting the gains I expected in the gym. I was tired a lot of the time, and I was irritable. Sleep consistency was always something I knew was important, but chose to set aside because of that college kid in me from 20 years ago.  

 

This challenge has truly made me realize how much more important sleep consistency is than I previously thought. In the past 2 weeks, I have attempted nightly to get at least 8 hours of sleep minimum going to bed between 10-11 and waking up naturally. I don’t get 8 hours most of the time, but he act of slowing down and going to bed in that range has made my recovery metrics improve. In the past 2 weeks of working on my sleep, I surpassed two of my 2021 goals in the gym. Now, could this be coincidental? I’m sure it could be, but I have felt great walking into the gym and preparing myself to give it 100%. I have gone through my days feeling much more focused and in tune with how my body is feeling because the cloudiness from lack of sleep wasn’t contradicting my perception. Now I guess the real question is will I be able to maintain this moving forward? 

I play cello in a band called The Avett Brothers for a living. Obviously due to the global pandemic I have been out of work since February 2021.  Life at home is very different from life on the road. Life on the road for us however, is not what you might think it is. The majority of us are into our 40s, several of the guys and gals have children, and we have a very packed schedule in a normal year. I have every opportunity to continue to dial in my sleep should I choose to. It is. however. difficult to fall asleep after playing a show due to the high I feel on stage. I know Rhone's January Pursuit was meditation, and I think I’ll be giving that a try to calm and center myself after a crazy show to build onto the base I’m setting up right now with my sleep consistency.

I’ll check back in at the end of the month and share my month’s metrics with you to show you the real data. 

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