Wednesday, January 6, 2016

As a crossfit coach we get asked many questions about how to improve performance. Big ones like nutrition, lifting technique down to do i need to colour co-ordinate my kit?(sorry Rosco) A massively under rated tool to our lives is sleep.
At the start of february @2600 we a holding a health challenge that has 5 components to it. These are nutrition,training, mobility,water consumption and SLEEP. To get a pass mark for sleep you will need to record the time you slept and also the quality of it.
So whats in it for me? The benefits for sleep are huge. What first triggered my interest in how i slept was for athletic performance. Recovery is a massive training tool and sleep repairs muscle and releases human growth hormone(HGH) during the deeper phases of sleep. It also sorts through our memories for the day to see whats important to keep and disgard. The glymphatic system is located in the CNS and during sleep it removes alot of toxins from the brain.
So how can we get a better sleep? In the hour leading up to bed time turn off all electronic devices that emit blue light. This light will simulate morning light and therfore keep arousal levels high. As evening approaches the body will release the hormone melatonin and body temp will fall preparing us for sleep. When the morning light rises melatonin decreases, cortisol increases along with body temp ready to wake up.
During sleep we need the room to be totally blacked out, no tv, air-con light or even digital clock as this can disrupt our circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm tells our body when to sleep and be awake and also during sleep the 90min sleep cycles. In the sleep cycles there are 2 main parts, non-rapid eye movement( of which this is broken into 4 parts, 1-2 light moderate and 3-4 deep sleep) and rapid eye movement(REM). During parts 3-4 and REM is where most of the restoration of the body and mind takes place.
Other factors in quality of sleep can be mattres/pillow comfort, noisy street or partner(snoring), alcohol,caffine and stesses in our lives. I know if i have high stress and my cortisol (stress hormone) levels are high i wake up around 2am thinking about the cause of the stress. In saying that the 8 hour unbroken sleep is relatively new with the industrial revolution and the artificial lighting of streets. Before then many people speculate that we had a 'segmented sleep' with humans going to bed early, waking up for around 2 hours then going back to sleep for the remaning 4 hours.
The dangers of not getting enough sleep include depression, faster ageing, forgetfullness, slow reaction times similar to low level drunk driving and a increase in appetite with cravings for high fat/carb foods, along with not letting the body and mind fully recover from the days activities. The military have long used sleep deprivation to break a person down. Everyone has their breaking point and sleep is the easiest and fastest way to do this. Being awake for 48 hours certainly challenges your thought process and mental toughness.
As i wake up at 04:15 i need to get to bed by 20:15!!!! Sometimes my 8 and 10 year old put me to bed. It was hard at the start to get out of the habit of watching tv or reading but as soon as you get used to waking up fresh you cant wait for your head to hit the pillow. If you dont get the required 8 -9 hours per night dont worry as you can sleep bank. This means over the course of the week if you miss a hour or 2 you can bank a couple of hours on the weekend with a nap or 2. I know after Sunday lunch im fighting for my life not to sleep straight away.
We are asleep 1/3 of our lives, lets make it positive so we can thrive in the other 2/3
                       Big Heathy putting some hours into his 'sleep bank' back at Deakin days!!!!

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