Sleep is something hugely important It has taken a few bad nights for me to realize this. I have never been a strong sleeper I get to sleep pretty easily, but can never seem to sleep for longer than 5-6 hours, occasionally an uninterrupted 7 hours. For me this amount is fine for me to function well but there are those of us who may need 8-10 hours of sleep to feel good.
Sleeping is no mean art: for its sake one must stay awake all day. ~Friedrich Nietzsche
Repair your body and Mind
Not getting enough sleep is a horrible thing, If I haven’t slept well in a few nights my brain will feel frazzled and make me irritable. This is because when we sleep we recover and repair in the following ways:
Nervous System – This is especially important for those of us weight training which already beats up our Central Nervous system. At night our body repairs its nerves and neurons, this includes controlling out breathing, movement, and digestion.
I notice with a lack of sleep my appetite is very odd (either huge or its gone) and I get somewhat jumpy. This is from an over worked Central Nervous System. So if are training hard and not sleeping well, your CNS is taking a stronger hit than usual without the ability to repair. Therefore If sleep has been low for a couple days due to stress/projects etc…..Drop the volume of exercise.
Immune System – Have you ever noticed that the last time you got a cold, you were probably in the middle of a stressful time, in which you where sleep deprived . Well this is no coincidence our Lymphatic system cleanses itself at night allowing our immune system to repair, without this sleep we it becomes weak and vulnerable leaving us subject to infection.
Hormones – One of the main jobs we do at night is release our hormones for repair, muscle growth, fat burning and all the detox purposes. This is primarily HGH , and essential to the body and mind. When your hormones are out of whack you just won’t feel right, and sleep is a huge part of the hormonal jigsaw.
Stages of Sleep
We all go through two main stages of sleep at night, one for bodily repair processed and one for repair of your mind. Both equally important and essential to feel good and have a productive day!
Deep Sleep, Repair the body- First few hours of sleep, this is when you sleep the deepest and your difficult to awaken. If someone manages get you up it will leave you feeling groggy and spaced out. This period is essential to rest our brains as blood will leave the brain, your body will cool and your Muscles and Nervous system will start to repair.
REM Sleep, Tidy our brains – Every now and then our bodies will knock into a cycle of REM sleep which allows us to clean up and reset our minds we process emotions and feelings and our brain clears out stress allowing you to awaken revived and refreshed
So hopefully that gives a quick rundown about sleep and why we need it. Without it we will feel mentally weak, leaving the human mind prone to anxiety and negative thoughts. On top of this our bodies will struggle to physically recover making days seem like chores.
Ways to sleep better
1. Have a long soak. It might seem obvious but how often do you have a nice long soak in a warm bath or hot shower before bed. this will allow your muscles to de-tense and release heat from your extremities therefore regulating your bodies temperature for sleep. Try and find a good lavender oil to drop into the bath.
2. Cut out electronics. Our minds did not evolve to have the constant strain of noises and visual stimulation from Televisions, Computers an Phones. I find that 1 hour before bed the best thing I can do is switch off my laptop, and turn off my phone leaving me only with a dim light on giving myself a while to read before bed. We do not realize it but electronics are sending out waves of radiation all the time. Make sure they are off while sleeping!
3. Make your room a cave. The place you sleep should be like a cave, it should be pitch black and have a good flow of air. To achieve this I would suggest getting some solid light blocking curtains/shades and possibly investing in a small fan which will give you some white noise and give your bedroom some airflow.
4. Make your dinner protein rich. I find that dinner is a great time to have a good chunk of meat, with vegetables and plenty of healthy fat. A protein rich meal is very calming on the body and has plenty of amino acids and B vitamins that act as brain food nourishing our brain and nervous system. Growth Hormone is a protein hormone made out of 190 Amino Acids having some lean steak or fish will help the production deepening sleep allowing recovery.
Remember to have a satisfying evening meal but make sure you do not eat within 2-3 hours of bed as not to block GH release. I find that going to bed feeling light or slightly hungry is always bet.
5. Herbs Help. Try and pickup a good herbal tincture with things like hops, valerian and lemon balm. I find the tinctures which you can drop in water or straight on your tongue work better than pills. They can be picked up pretty cheaply and for the money do a good job of quieting the mind and relaxing me before sleep. I would also occasionally recommend a occasional dose of melatonin as it is great to recover sleep debt and a potent anti-oxidant just start with a small dose.
So there it is a short summary of why sleep is important and why you feel horrible without enough of it, hopefully the tips I added will be somewhat new to you and get you into the land of nod, quickly and easily avoiding sleep debt!
A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book. ~Irish Proverb
If any readers have some sleep tips to share please feel free to post them in the comments- Thanks for reading!
Also found this great video from Jonny Bowden on Sleep have a watch…..