Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Sleep

Getting enough sleep is probably the most important component of your training routine. During sleep your body facilitates both fat loss and muscle recovery, two important aspects of your fitness program. Sleep is right up there with nutrition in terms of importance; it’s a time for your body to reset, retune, and repair.

In fact, I find that sleep, exercise, and nutrition are intertwined. The more/better I sleep, the easier I find it to eat well. The harder I exercise, the better I sleep and the better I sleep, the harder I can exercise. Healthy habits reinforce each other.

How much sleep do you need?
For most people, it’s 7.5 to 9 hours per night… and that’s just to keep from going further into sleep debt. Most of us actually need more hours than that if we want to overcome the sleep debt that we’ve racked up by years of burning the candle at both ends. Since most of us have a set endpoint for waking up—courtesy of the alarm clock that screams “Get up and get to work!”—that means you have to go to bed earlier.

Task for the Day: Create a Bedtime Routine
Today, create a bedtime routine that you will try to follow most of the time. A bedtime routine signals to your brain that it’s time to start winding down and get ready for sleep.

Helpful Tips:

  • – Every hour sleep you get before midnight is worth two hours after.
  • – Try to make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and comfortably cool.
  • – Place your alarm clock so you cannot hear it ticking or see the time.
  • – Try to avoid alcohol and caffeine for several hours before bedtime.

One thing to note: the computer and TV need to be off at least 30 minutes before you intend to fall asleep and preferably about an hour before. The blue spectrum light put off by the screens interferes with the production of melatonin and keeps you awake. Alarm clocks with blue displays are also bad news. I usually tuck any alarm clocks out of sight just to make the room darker and to make sure I am not looking at it in the middle of the night to see how much time I have left to sleep.