QUICK! Name the five things required to reduce pain, get stronger and burn fat healthfully!
... go ahead.... we'll hang out and wait ...
Big high five if you came up with things like discipline, accountability, motivation, meal planning, sticking to workouts and asking for help! But maybe you missed on of the most important ones: SLEEP. The quality and duration of your sleep will make or break your training and goals no matter how well you eat, workout or stay on track!
If you're training and eating intelligently, but not sleeping well at night, there's very a high likelihood that you're either already frustrated with a lack of progress or you're on a path to a plateau.
Sleep cycles last around 90 minutes, and most adults need 4-5 cycles per night to accumulate enough deep sleep to rebuild and awake refreshed. (If you're in a period of transition, healing or growth ... you may need more!)
You burn fat while you SLEEP, not while you work out. Sleep deprivation (less than 6 hours of sleep at night) makes you MORE hungry and can cut the amount of fat burned at night by up to half.
Sleeping actually repairs brain cells and clears toxic waste build-up in the brain, literally "clearing the cobwebs" and protecting your brain from neurodegenerative diseases.
1. Go to bed / wake up around the same time. Use a phone alarm. An alarm clock. A rooster. Pay a friend to call you. Whatever. This one is a big one. Your brain and your organs need a rhythm in order to feel like things are predictable enough to allow you to change. Start with one (bed time or wake time) and aim for within 30 minutes of the same time for two weeks. Then start working on the second time frame. If you veer off course, get back on track as soon as possible.
2. Turn off all screens or use blue light filter for at least 60 minutes before bedtime. Even if you think it isn't keeping you awake, the light from your screens is telling part of your brain that the sun's out and it's only nap time. If screens are just something that aren't going away at night, try wearing red glasses, turning on the "night shift" feature on your phone or download a blue light filter app on your devices.
3. Eat a snack with easily absorbed fat / protein / carbohydrate before bed. You need FUEL to do all that recovery work, and your body will wake you up in order to get that fuel from your liver if it's not in your bloodstream.
Pro tip: If you wake up *every* night between 2 and 4 am ... eat 1/4 c of full fat ice cream before bed for a week and see what happens.
As an insomniac for most of my adult life, I can personally attest to the power of sleep as it relates to training, being in relationship and running a business or coaching practice. I still have bad nights now and again, but the nights between those make me a kinder, stronger and more available human heart.
Go out, sleep hard and be awesome!!
Leave us a comment with your best sleep tips (or best sleepwalking story!) We'd love to hear how snoozing has changed the course of your training and life.
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