“Just one more episode”.... Nek minute its 2:30am and your 14 episodes deep in to season two of Gilmore Girls and you have to get up for work in 3 hours!!! Sound familiar??
Along with a few other key components, sleep is often one of the most neglected aspects of a great training program. “Looking after yourself by staying fit” is not just about how many hard sessions you can fit into each week. There is only so long that your body can run off of 5 hrs of sleep each night and 6 coffees a day before it starts to shut down and all of your hard work goes out the window.
It is so important to include active recovery sessions, adequate rest time, good nutrition and quality sleep into your program as it all allows your body time to repair and strengthen it self between workouts. It also allows time for you to recover both physically and psychologically.
The duration of your recovery time should also not be over looked as this is when the body is adapting to the stress associated with exercise, replenishing muscle glycogen (energy stores) and allows time for body tissue to repair itself.
Adding in recovery sessions to your program is a great way to look after your body and to ensure that it gets the vital care that it needs. Recovery also helps you to prevent injury from muscle fatigue and overuse and will help you to get rid of any niggles or aches and pains from your body between your harder sessions. Activities like going for a swim, walk or bike ride, attending a yoga class, getting a massage, doing a session that consists of light weights/high reps or loaded movements at a low intensity will all aid in your recovery. Active recovery work helps to get blood flowing and deliver fresh oxygen (the catalyst for repair) to the muscles. Another benefit is that it will also help you to get moving again taking tight & sore muscles through a full range of motion to get some dynamic stretching & lengthening.
Sleep is the most important time to recover, it provides benefits to your mental health, hormone balance and muscular recovery. In order to perform at your best you need to get enough sleep which is generally between 7 to 10 hours. As everybody's lifestyle is different, their individual needs may vary, so find out what works for you and how much sleep your body really needs.
While we are sleeping we are doing more than just dreaming about winning tatslotto or winning your weight in Oreo filled doughnuts......... Our bodies are actually using this time to restore organs, bones and tissues, replenish immune cells and circulate human growth hormone. Sleep has an enormous effect on muscle growth and physical well being. So without getting enough sleep you could be hindering your own results without knowing it.
The quality of your sleep also matters, so when its approaching bed time start to unwind and switch your brain off. Developing your own bed time routine can be one of the best things you can do for your self in regards to your physical and mental wellbeing. Here are a few tips as to how you can ensure a better night sleep.
Avoid consuming stimulants like caffeine and alcohol. If necessary try have your last coffee no later then 4pm. While coffee is a beautiful and magical, great tasting, great smelling cup of happiness, it really messes with our body clocks. Consuming coffee too late in the afternoon can prevent us from getting to sleep but can also cause restless, unbroken sleep and can make it harder to get out of bed in the morning.
No screen time 1hr before bed. Turn off your television, ipad and phones. The light from the screens of these devices act as a cognitive stimulant increasing your brains electrical activity. This means, instead of calming down to go to sleep, you start to become more alert.
Another reason is by simply reading a work email or responding to a text, it can increase tension, stress and anxiety which is the last thing you need right before bed.
Try to do something relaxing like having a bath, meditate, read a book or foam roll, these things will help to get your brain and body ready for bed and help to fall asleep easier. You can include these tips to form your own bed time routine. Going to bed at the same time each night will also help you to be more consistent.
Stress management- Not getting enough sleep can also cause a number of hormone imbalances and can lead to higher levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) being released, chronically elevated levels of cortisol can prevent both fat loss & muscle gain. So make sure you are getting in 7-10 hours.
The quality of your sleep also matters. Make sure you are getting a deep sleep that is not unbroken. Meaning that you are not awake half the night, tossing and turning, thinking about work or stressing about an unpaid bill. (You can not do anything about those things at 3am any way, so you can deal with in the morning). This is where your sleep routine will help your brain to 'switch off' and get ready for sleep.
Remove any extra lighting stimulus from your room, the red light on your TV when it is off, LED alarm clock screens, try to block out any street lighting that may enter your window. If all else fails wear an eye mask. This will help to increase melatonin secretion, which will increase the quality of your sleep and may potentially aid in the prevention of disease * sleep disorders.
Rest, recovery and sleep are all just as important as the work out so make sure you find the time time for it.
Happy Nap Time Peeps.......
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