I know this is my regular cross-training/Cross-Fit feature, but this is something that has greatly affected my attendance and performance with cross-training. Sleep. I’m not the only one who is struggling so I chose this topic for mylatest post for US News Health.
How can we improve our sleeping patterns?
1. Keep the bedroom for sleep and sex. Don’t let the bedroom become the home office. Keep the clutter and distraction of that quickly approaching timeline out of the bedroom. Keep a cool temperature, and design the room for its purpose. Walking into your bedroom should be a clear change from the rest of the house.
2. Put down the screens. An hour or more before bedtime, put down the computer, smartphone and TV. Dim the lights throughout the house, and start getting your mind ready to wind down. Some people use blackout shades in the bedroom during the summer months. Before electricity, people stayed awake two or three hours past dusk with candlelight, and their natural circadian rhythms prompted them to sleep. There’s a lot of research that links artificial light – including blue-light from screens – with interrupted sleep patterns. If we’re staying up six or more hours past dusk with fluorescent light glowing, our bodies don’t know when it’s time to sleep.
3. Pay attention to what you eat and drink before bedtime. Try not to go to bed ravenous or stuffed. Be aware that a glass of wine might help calm the nerves, but metabolizing alcohol keeps the body in an alert mode while the mind is trying to snooze. Have that glass of wine earlier in the evening. And yes, eating bad pizza right before bed can cause nightmares. So can stuffing yourself with any food minutes before trying to sleep. Your body is trying to do two things: metabolize food and sleep. The food is going to win, and that’s a cause for dreams and other disruptions to quality sleep.
4. Move your body. There is substantial evidence that exercise helps you sleep. Even moderate exercise like a daily walk promotes better sleep – in terms of quality and quantity. Be careful with your exercise timing, so you’re not too energized with endorphins to sleep. There’s also a direct link between exercise and stress, and stress is a big factor in sleep-deprived people. Move your body. Manage your stress. Get quality sleep.
Naturally, every person is different and all the “rules” may not apply. Notice I did not give common recommendations for hours of sleep. That’s because more and more research emphasizes the importance of quality sleep over quantity. Using a sleep tracker device can give some insights on your sleep patterns and your actual deep sleep versus light sleep. And depending on your current circumstances, maybe getting any sleep is a cause for rejoicing.