We create dedicated schedules for our training, be that following a program, or ensuring we hit the gym a few times a week. But how often do we think about our recovery in the same way? There is a lot of information on post workout recovery sessions; re-hydrating, taking on some food… (Not going to get into the nutrition part here, for another day). But everyone forgets about sleep. That strange state of mind that no one really understands. What has been show though, is that during sleep our bodies repair and adapt themselves. So how do we get the most out of sleep?
Here are a few things that seem counter-intuitive, but really work.
5 of the most important things I’ve learnt:
- Treat it like any daily routine
Get into a proper sleeping routine. Go to bed and wake up at the same /similar time every day, whether it’s during the week or over the weekend.
Myth – There is no such thing as catching up. “Catching up on sleep on the weekend” is actually to our detriment. It changes our sleeping patterns from what our bodies have adapted to during the week. By Monday morning you are back at square one, trying to get into a ‘new’ sleeping routine, your body doesn’t know about weekends, it only knows rhythms and cycles.
Getting into the same sleeping pattern as your partner also helps a lot, as both of your alarms will set off at the same time each morning and this will prevent disrupting your partner’s sleep pattern.
- Stay away from the light!
Put your computer, tablet, smartphone and any other electronic device away, also, turn off the TV at least an hour before going to sleep. Electronics tend to emit blue light, similar to what we get through day light. This plays havoc with our sleep cycles and doesn’t allow your body to get ready to go to bed. Which it then tries to do while you toss and turn in bed.
- Make your pre/post sleep routines productive.
You already have a pre and post sleep routine, but is it helping you sleep? Time to actually think about what you are doing in the 90 minutes before you go to bed and after you wake up. Most likely you have set of behaviours/activities that you are following whether you are aware of it or not. The question here is, are they helping you? To sleep like a real champion, you want to engage in activities that stimulate melatonin production in the evening and serotonin production in the morning. Dimming the lights, getting away from blue light and, if you have a busy mind like most of us, doing something that allows you to decompress from the day. Be that reading, doing an evening journal, colouring, cleaning the house (a cathartic experience if ever there was one!) whatever allows your mind to get away from the days stimulation – Social media doesn’t count here!
If your morning looks like a mad rush from the minute you wake up and revolves around the coffee machine, then you may want to refocus your day. This guy gets it! Give yourself the time you need in the morning to re-hydrate, take on a bit of food and experience a bit of sun light (natural or artificial day light). This allows your body to get going and better sets you up for the day.
- Invest in a wake up light alarm
Don’t use your phone as an alarm. In fact, keep your phone away from your bedside table and out of reach when you are in bed, this takes the temptation away when you are wanting to look at social media apps, messages, internet browsing, all of which adds to the “blue light” phenomenon, creates excitement and doesn’t set you up for sleep. I recently bought a wake up light alarm and I cannot tell you what a difference it has made to my waking up routine. The simulated sunrise starts 30 min before I get up and I am ready to jump out of bed with the alarm. The emergence of the ‘daylight’ kick-starts your morning ritual and serotonin production getting you ready for the day. Since I’ve been using my light alarm, I no longer need to push the snooze button for 10-15 min before actually getting out of bed, something I’ve been doing for years and years! Try these from Amir
- A big bed is a non-negotiable!
If you have slept alone on a double bed, why would you want to share it? If there are two of you, a King size extra length is the only option. Smaller than that and you will disturb your partner’s sleep regardless of what you do, whether it’s turning over in the middle of the night, going to the bathroom, or simply breathing on your partner when facing each other in bed. You both need enough space so that you are able to move around freely but without disturbing each other. You will both be extremely happy when you wake up after a good night’s uninterrupted sleep enabling you to be that much more productive during the day.
Keep your bedroom as a sleep sanctuary (whale noises are optional). Think of it as the place of optimal recovery and rejuvenation. Consistent, good sleep can cure the world’s ills, and change your perspective on life.