***Calling all Crossfit New Englanders! Judi, Denise and Tom are spearheading an effort to send shirts to our kids in Kenya to reward them for “Pride in Effort”. Please click HERE for more information.***
50 Thursters (45#)
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Coaches Corner with Coach Harry
The Essential Z’s
Next to air, food, and water, sleep is a simple must for overall health. Lack of sleep not only leads to rough workouts in the gym, but it affects our mood, our thought-process, and how we treat others. Constant sleep deprivation has been linked to weight gain, high blood pressure, a weakened immune system… the list goes on. You don’t want to be there.
We pay close attention to quality food choices – now let’s do the same for our sleeping habits. As adults, we want to aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night.
Below you will find 10 tips to increasing your quality of sleep. Choose 2-3 of these to start, and dial them in for the first week. Once you feel completely comfortable in those, add in another, and hold steady until you feel comfortable to take on another. Keep repeating the process until we reach all 10.
1. Sleep in complete, total darkness. On a hormonal level, even an inch of dim light on the body prevents you from getting the deep sleep we need. So turn off the TV, the night light, and even cover the alarm clock. Consider black-out curtains. Put anything that lights up – to include your cellphone – away in the bathroom. Simply put that temptation away to a spot you can’t easily reach from bedside.
2. Create a before-bed ritual. Just like how our CFNE warmup primes us for the WOD, a before-bed ritual will prime us for sleep. A consistent pattern here will train the body to understand that rack time is quickly approaching, and will gradually wind down in preparation. To some extent, we already do this – many of us associate the brushing of our teeth with bedtime.
Add onto that, and create a 15 minute routine that winds you down mentally and physically. Take a warm shower, change into pajamas, read a book… make it a relaxing and consistent ritual that will ease you into bed.
3. Establish a sleep-schedule. Don’t view this as an all-or-nothing ordeal. Start small – set a safe “no later than” bed time to start. But be diligent in following it. Every 1-2 weeks, reset that standard 15 minutes earlier. Now it’s 10:15 instead of 10:30. Continue the process until you’ve reached your goal.
4. Improve the quality of your bed. This doesn’t mean you need to invest in a new bed – start with new sheets. 300 thread-count sheets are worth the ~$85. You sleep on these sheets every night… it’s worth it.
5. Cool Out. According to the New York Times, the optimal temperature for sleep is around 60-68 degrees. The decrease in core temperature induces sleep, whereas a higher temperature can cause restlessness. Cooler than you might guess – but think about those colder winter nights, and how comfortable you are wrapped in several sheets. It’s cozy. No two ways about it.
6. White-noise. Turn on a fan to block out all excess noise from traffic, neighbors, and others who don’t adhere to this advice (just kidding… but not really)
7. Cut off caffeine after 2pm. The half-life of caffeine is measured at just under 6 hours. Some of us can have a cup of joe moments before bed and still find our way to sleep, but it’s beyond that. We can’t reach the deepest levels of REM sleep, where we truly reap the recuperative benefits, if caffeine is present in our system.
8. Taper down liquids after 5pm. Many of us have the (great) goal of drinking more water. Let’s frontload that in the earlier hours of the day, and taper off towards the evening. By noon, aim for 50% (or more) of your daily oz’s.
9. Naturally regulate your sleep cycle. Ever felt exhausted after a day in the sun? Ever felt restless after a day in the office? There’s a reason for that – sun light regulates our sleep hormones, and exposure during the day will help us get to sleep at night. Take your breaks outside, exercise in the sun when you can, and open the curtains at home or the blinds at work as much as possible.
10. Track your sleep. Try this for a week. Write down what time you got into bed, and what time you rose the following morning. This can be valuable data that you simply can’t remember without writing it down. How many hours did you sleep 4 nights ago?
There are a million and one things that could get in the way of a good nights sleep. I’d bet you a million of those however are actions that could wait until the following day. We need our sleep to optimize our lives.
Overnight results. For real this time.