Rest and recovery is paramount in CrossFit. While we often discuss mobility and stretching, we rarely mention sleep. Getting a full night?s sleep (8-9 hours) will keep you more alert and functional throughout the day, This will increase your productivity at work, improve your mood (and possibly your boss?s mood), and improve your overall health.
While many complain there simply isn?t enough time in the day to get that much sleep, the increase in your performance throughout the day will result in getting more work done faster- the same goals we have for our workout of the day. In February 2011, Dallas Hartwig wrote an article for Performance Menu. The PM is an online journal published each month by Greg Everett of Catalyst Athletics. The article touches on how important all the minute details are in your training. They spent a majority of time specifically focusing on sleep and the detrimental affects that happen when we don?t sleep enough.
Justin talked a little about sleep and it?s role in recovery here! Here are some recommendations directly from the article on how to help your sleep.
‘Sleep in a cool, dark, quiet room. Cover all your windows and block out as much light as possible from other sources. Turn down the thermostat, too.
Unplug everything electrical in your bedroom, and put your mobile in a non-transmitting (?airplane?) mode. Electromagnetic fields (EMF) disturb melatonin production from serotonin, which is critical for restful sleep.
Get more sleep in the winter, and worry less about it in the long summer days. This is straight out of the Lights Out playbook, and I like it.
No TV, computer or video games within an hour (minimum) of bedtime. Even better, avoid exposure to electronic screens and blue light after dark ? the intensity of light and duration matter, too. Dim your lights after dark.
Try to make your sleep/wake times regular. Your body likes rhythm.
Take naps. The studies that demonstrate increased athletic performance prescribed additional sleep. If you?re peaking for a competition, take the two weeks prior to your event to sleep a LOT.
Avoid sugar and starchy veggies within a 1-2 hours of bedtime, as elevated blood glucose dramatically impairs the secretion of growth hormone in early sleep. Free fatty acids (FFAs) in the bloodstream have a similar effect. If you?re on a mass gain program and are eating at every opportunity, choose a chunk of protein as your pre-bed snack. Even if you?re desperate to ingest more total calories, the additional intake of significant quantities of carbs and fat shortly before sleep might not confer the big picture benefit desired.
Alcohol, although it expedites most peoples? initial trip to Dreamland, causes fragmentation of late sleep, decreasing SWS (the really good stuff). It also suppresses GH secretion at a ?dose- dependent rate? (i.e. drinking less is better). I?m not suggesting you drink in the morning, but before bed is especially detrimental to your sleep.
No caffeine after noon. Play with caffeine timing if you want, but don?t trust your defensive ?I can slam an espresso right before bed and be totally fine? justification. Caffeine can have subtle influences on the quality of your sleep. Sleep disturbances, like poor nutrition, can have insidious and creeping effects on your well-being, often undetectable on a day-in, day-out basis. If you use caffeine as an ergogenic aid when you train in the afternoon or evening, do so with caution. Potentially higher performance in training that compromises your recovery (due to reduction in sleep quality/quantity) is a net loss. If you have an afternoon/evening competition, however, the case could probably be made that increased performance in (infrequent) competition outweighs the sleep disruption of occasional late-day caffeine intake. (P.S. Your regular training is not ?competition?. It?s training.)
If you do shift work, you?re already a little bit screwed. Remember that total sleep cycles count, so even if you?re napping in church, get those hours in any way you can. Your tolerance of sleep cycle disruption is that much smaller, so you might consider avoiding caffeine altogether, since it worsens aspects of adrenal fatigue that may already be present due to your daily schedule.
If you don?t get 6 hours of sleep, you don?t get to train (and I know you want to train). Turn off the TV, stop browsing the web (even if you?re learning good stuff about healthy living – there?s that irony again) and get to bed. Optionally, spend a few minutes winding down, reading an actual book or published article about nutrition or training or whatever won?t stress you out or wind you up. (No work.)
Training in the late afternoon or evening can be a problem for some people, since high-intensity exercise releases neurotransmitters that are stimulatory, and make it harder for some people to fall asleep. Assuming adequate sleep the night before, we generally like training in the morning. The natural ?ramping up? for the day corresponds with (healthy) morning elevations in cortisol, and training in the morning seems to make good sense to us.
If you?re having trouble sleeping, make sure you?re doing at least some activity during the day, albeit at a much lower intensity. Even walking or easy swimming can help with sleep quality that night.?
As you can see sleep in extremely important and often overlooked in our training. Make it a focus and you will see improvements across the board! Sweet Dreams!
Kelly running in a workout.