One of the most important things to our health is sleep. Find out how many hours that are good for you, remember if you are working out a lot, especially if you do heavy cardio and/or lifting your body needs it’s rest! A lot of the elite athletes sleep form 9-11h/night. It’s one of the most important things to get your body in balance. During the night your body switches from a state that is catabolic (That is, it breaks down nutrients to get energy.) to an anabolic state. The anabolic state is the one that rebuilds your muscles, for example. Your brain makes new neural pathways and process the information from the day. The deep sleep is the most important sleep-cycle, if you deprive a mouse (yes, this experiment was done with mice, poor things) the deep sleep, it will actually not survive for long. The brain and your body is intimately connected in ways we do not yet understand. So see your sleep as something essential to your health, give it as much effort as you do your food. Here are some of my ground rules when it comes to sleep.
- Make your sleep regular. This is the most important one. Try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day. Just because you fell asleep late one night, don’t feel like your body “needs” to oversleep the next day. It’s really okay. What your body needs is regularity.
- Don’t oversleep. Yes, if you only get 5h of sleep chances are you’ll be tired. Deal with it, oversleeping for hours will really set of your biological daytime clock for several days. And sleeping for 11 hours one night and 5 the other will really just mess you up and make you tired.
- Don’t nap. Ok, I may sound harsh here, but really, napping during the day when we lack sleep usually just makes us groggy and may well make you sleep poorly the next night. Instead, do something lightly active and go to sleep at your regular time the same night. Your body does not always need to compensate sleep in time, it compensates in quality of sleep as well.
- Make a bedtime schedule. This is as important as planning your meals or exercises. Look through your calendar, when do you need to get up to get your morning routine to work and when is a reasonable time for you to go to bed? Try to make the hours as similar as possible each day. Strive for at least 7h of sleep each night.
- Be active. Be active during the day, physical activity will make it easier to get a good nights rest.