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Sleep: Your life depends on it!

February 28, 2010

Sleep is one of the most important aspects of recovery and is a factor that greatly impacts your health.In fact, it may be runner up only to air and water as one of the most vital things to keep us alive. Trust us when we say that not sleeping enough will mess you up. In ways you can’t even imagine.

Lack of sleep is a fast track to crappy workouts, terrible relationships, horrible insulin levels, and a slow miserable death (really, this is not an exaggeration). And, the traditional 8 hours is probably not even enough. Research has shown that 9+ hours of sleep each night, in complete and total darkness, is necessary to reap the maximum benefits sleep provides. There is so much science on the subject, we won’t even try to compete with the info already out there. Instead, read Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar, and Survival by T.S. Wiley.  But you don’t need to wait until you read the book to start improving your life, losing fat, and becoming a dramatically happier person by getting enough sleep. Here’s what you need to do:

Sleep when it’s dark.Yes, this means you will sleep more in the winter. We’re gonna sound like hippies here, but this fits in with the rhythms of the universe and the hormonal ebb and flow of your body. We realize it’s not usually realistic to hit the sack at 6pm in the winter, but get yourself between the sheets ASAP after the sun goes down. And if your life allows it, stay there until the sun comes up.

Get 9 or more hours of sleep in the fall and winter; get nearly as much in the summer. In the summertime, the sun is out longer, so enjoy the long days! But when the days get short, it’s natures way of telling you to get more zzz’s.

Sleep in complete and total darkness. Even exposing one square inch of your skin to dim light while you sleep disrupts hormone levels and decreases the effectiveness of sleep. Get rid of your clock, your phone charger, and your night light. Put black tape over even the smallest of LEDs in your bedroom and hang some black out curtains over your windows. Turn your bedroom into a cave.

Who thinks that’s realistic? We’re with you…it’s difficult, if not impossible, to sleep 9+ hours a night in total darkness. You could probably list a million things that get in the way of getting a good night’s rest. But you have to do the best you can and continue to make small changes in your life until you are able to get the sleep your body needs. Here are a few steps you can take tonight to get better sleep:

Write down a sleep schedule and stick to it.Hitting the rack every night and waking up at the same time will help you get better sleep. Every couple weeks, try to go to bed just 15 minutes earlier. For example, if you usually go to bed at 11pm and get up at 6am, start tonight by going to bed at 10:45pm and getting up at 6am. Do it for a week or two until you get used to wrapping up your nighttime internet surfing a little early. Then, shoot for 10:30pm. Keep adjusting until you’re getting your 9 hours (or more!). Sleep as much as possible without getting divorced or fired (unless those where coming anyway…).

Darken your room. Close your curtains and get rid of any unnecessary lights in your room (hint: they are all unnecessary). Put all your lighted knick-knacks in the bathroom (and shut the door). They will still be there when you wake up, and if your alarm is annoying enough, it will still wake you up for work.

Create a before-bed routine.This gears your body up for some rack time by starting the production of melatonin and gets your mind ready for sleep. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Read a book, brush your teeth, kiss you dog goodnight, and put on your favorite pajamas. Take 10-15 minutes to physically and mentally prepare for sleep, and your body will start to get the message. Brushing teeth = Falling asleep soon.

Track it.You probably saw this coming…so just write it down when you are tracking your daily wod, what you eat and your hydration. You can even go a little further by taking note of when you go to bed and when you wake up. It’s harder to lie to yourself if you write it down. It’s easier to improve if you know where you are.

You can get by without sleep, but at a very high cost. Stop making excuses and do what you need to do to get some freaking sleep!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Croft permalink
    March 1, 2010 12:36 pm

    You’re such a hippie! By the way, what is this “rack” you keep referring to?

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