We always talk about training, but I feel like the opposite end of the training spectrum is usually being neglected.
What is it?
Your gains from training only set in after a night (or two) of good sleep!
First, let’s talk about some science behind sleep.
That afternoon drowsiness is real!
Sleep is quite an “active” process despite what most people believe.
During sleep, our brain and body are going through processes to reconnect nerves and heal tissues that are injured or worked out (to your body, a workout is viewed as a mini injury).
Generally speaking, 7-8 hours of sleep allow the body to fully “heal” itself.
Pretty important right?
Here are some quick simple things you can do to improve your sleep:
1) Keep your bedroom slightly cooler.
Make your room cool and comfortable will allow you to sleep better. You would want to keep your room warm for taking a nap though. More on napping to come in a bit.
2) Keep your room dark.
Lights trigger your brain to be active.
When you are sleeping, shut out any lights in your room.
Even lights on your skin to change your body temperature and disrupt your sleep cycle.
3) Stay off your [insert any electronic name here] an hour before your bedtime
This is a big one here.
You know about how lights can activate your brain to stay awake, thinking to itself it’s day time.
Well, your electronic devices can emit blue light bright enough to mimic that. We see how this affects a lot of our patients in Downtown Seattle.
Pretty cool looking right? Courtesy of Zac Cupples of introducing me to this futuristic looking device.
I know your phone may have the night time setting, but I just found those not significant enough.
4) Take a Nap!
I heard patients say this to me a lot. “Doc, I just can’t take a nap.”
Before you say one of these, hear me out.
We are wired to have naps. It is important to physical and mental health.
Dr. Sara Mednick’s book “Take A Nap, Change Your Life” (a good read) explained how napping can enhance your sleep pattern, and lays out a plan for the optimum nap.
As a new father myself, this book did change my life.
One of the things that stuck with me the most from Dr. Mednick’s book is Sleep Inertia which can be translated to the Nap Wheel. You can use this wheel to determine your ideal napping time, based on your need for your tasks (for instance, you just learn a new skill, and you want to be in the best mode to maintain the skill, Stage 2 nap is the most important).
The Nap Wheel!
I will be talking about different stages of nap next time. For now, try these 4 things out and hope that helps you to get better sleep!
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