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Stop The Self-Sabotage, Part 2

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Part 2- Are You Sleeping?

Just ask any parent of a new-born child and they’ll tell you… SLEEP IS IMPORTANT! It is very obvious when we aren’t getting enough. A shortage of shut eye can leave us feeling slow and foggy, perhaps with lower energy levels and a decreased mood. These effects are readily apparent, and all too well known. But what other effects does a lack of adequate sleep have on our bodies? As it turns out, not getting enough sleep can contributes to sub-optimal body composition and increases the difficulty of losing weight and trimming down. Here is why…

 

Sleep is a huge part of both performance and recovery.

Studies by Charles Poliquin have shown a link between the amount and quality that people slept and their ability to lose weight. Not getting adequate amounts of rest can lead our bodies to react adversely. Hormone quantities skew from their natural levels, creating difficulties for everything from weight loss to muscle gain. Simply put, a lack of sleep detracts from your efforts and your body’s ability to respond to the external stimulus for growth and change that you are applying in the gym.
Inadequate sleep can also affect the part of the brain that is responsible for regulating hunger and fatigue, the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is responsible for regulating body temperature, controlling hunger and thirst, and even water retention, among other things. The hypothalamus is particularly important with regards to weight loss and achieving our goals in the gym. This is because of its role in creating cortisol. Many people are familiar with the fact that this chemical is released when dealing with stress, but it is also a factor leading to increased appetite in some individuals, and can increase fat storage.
Improper sleep can also effect testosterone levels. Testosterone, while hotly contested when taken as a performance enhancing drug, is a naturally occurring hormone that aids in muscle growth and metabolism regulation. Even just one night of less than optimal sleep can leave testosterone levels depressed. By now, I am sure you are convinced that sleep is important. Check out these tips to ensure you are getting the recover rest you need.

Going to sleep on a schedule will help ensure adequate sleep every night.

Tip #1 – Stay on a consistent schedule, even though the weekends. One late night out can screw up your sleep cycles for days, and if you happen to be drinking too, your hormone levels will be even further out of wack.
Tip #2 – Try to minimize light sources in your sleep area. Sleeping with the TV may be a habit for you, but the quality and depth of your sleep is effected by even small amounts of light.
Tip #3- Minimize mobile device use before/during your goal sleep time. Turning your devices into night time mode can help, but the content we engage with can also make our minds restless, making it even more difficult to fall asleep. Books are a great alternative.
Tip #4 -Avoid sleep aids. Even prescription sleep aids come with side effects, including limiting the depth of your sleep cycles. Habitual use has also been shown to cause long lasting problems with our ability to sleep naturally.
Tip #5 – Clear your mind and prepare yourself for sleep. Calm, relaxed, and deliberate deep breathing and stretching can help ready us for rest, especially when we create a habit and establish the pattern just before we lay down.
Tip #6- Consume warm liquids. Drinking warm fluids, whether milk or herbal tea (caffeine free!) can help relax and prime our minds and bodies for falling asleep. Avoid sugary drinks here though, as they won’t help and negatively impact your diet as well.
Check back soon for our part 3 of our three part “Stop The Self-Sabotage” series, “What’s Eating You?”
Or if you are interested in finding out more about how we keep our athletes recovering properly and sleeping enough here at CrossFit Little Creek, CLICK HERE to come check out a class and discuss your fitness goals.