You're doing all the right things for peak physical performance- working out, taking in plenty of protein, consuming the right fats, eating complex carbs and taking quality supplements. But still you have a hard time moving beyond that plateau in your training.
What's the fix? Like many people these days, you maybe missing out on an essential piece of the performance puzzle- restorative sleep.
Research shows that the average American sleeps only about 6.9 hours a night rather than the 8.1 hours most experts say we need- a figure that has declined steadily in direct correlation with our transformation to a 24-hour society. That is to say, as companies increasingly expand their hours of business and various entertainment venues are available around the clock, hectic work schedules and social lives add up to chronic sleep deprivation for many.
Just because you can deal with less sleep doesn't mean you can avoid the consequences for this loss. Just as overeating can lead to obesity, lack of sleep can lead to health problems too. Name the body function and sleep is a part of it. Research has linked lack of sleep to:
- Weight gain
- High blood pressure
- Heart problems
- Immune system weakening
- Substance abuse
Tips for better sleep:
- Establish a regular bedtime and wake-up time, even on weekends.
- Make the association of your bedroom primarily with sleep vs. working, reading or TV.
- Keep your bedroom dark, cool and quiet.
- Avoid caffeine, nicotine or alcohol late at night. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants which can cause problems falling asleep. Alcohol sedates you so that you can get to sleep, but it interferes with deep sleep stages resulting in poor quality of rest.
- Finish eating several hours before bedtime. Can cause heartburn or even discomfort with large meals. Personally, I sleep better with something light to eat right before bed.
- Avoid workouts close to bedtime. This is a mixed bag depending on the individual- some are more energized from a workout. While others maybe so fatigued that sleep is no problem.
- Take naps if drowsy during the day but no more than 20-30 minutes.
- If your mind races at night before bed either due to next day's schedule, to do list, ideas or worries- write them down. This act of physically writing things down will "shelve" the mental clatter so you can get some rest.
- If problems persist get help. Consult your doctor or a sleep disorder clinic. There may be an underlying cause.
Restorative sleep is exactly what it sounds, the body heals when you have sufficient sleep quality and quantity. Take care of yourself and get your rest. Everyone around you will appreciate it.