Sleep

Quality sleep is crucial for recovery and repair down to the cellular level, for brain health, stress management, hormonal function, level moods, and wellness.

Sleep
recovery_Focus

If you feel stuck with your workouts, or you struggle to make any gains despite herculean efforts, check your overall volume of activity and the quality of your sleep. Rest and recovery play an enormous role in performance as well as in injury recovery. Most adults don’t seem to get enough sleep.

What are some indicators of overtraining? The following behavioral indicators are your body’s way of making further increases in stress volume and performance improvement nearly impossible:

  • Apathy
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Decreased libido
  • Increased thirst or sugar cravings (beyond the norm)
  • Lethargy or sluggishness
  • Loss of ability to concentrate
  • Unexplained irritability

Our bodies are remarkably intelligent. Can you tune into what your body is telling you?

Physical indicators include:

  • Change in resting heart rate
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue or muscle soreness beyond DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness)
  • Infection
  • Injury
  • Lymph gland swelling
  • Reduced performance (slowed times, weaker on climbs or lifts),
  • Slow-healing wounds
  • Unusual weight fluctuation

None of these is a “sure” indicator. However, if you have several at one time, your body may be asking for rest.

 

sleep_Tips

When it comes to our health, both exercise and nutrition tend to get the bulk of the attention. But getting adequate sleep may be the most important key to improving your outdoor performance, increasing brain and body function, and perhaps even losing unwanted weight as we enter the season of holiday parties and shorter daylight.

In 2017, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine went to three gentlemen who studied how our internal clocks and circadian rhythms regulate vital functions such as behavior, hormone levels, body temperature, metabolism, and sleep. If you find yourself reaching for caffeine or sugar sometime during the day to stay awake and alert, your sleep habits may be responsible.

Why Is Sleep Important?

While you sleep, your body works hard to rebuild damaged tissues and replenish cells at the mitochondrial level. Matched closely with the sun’s light, your circadian rhythm (the body’s biochemical cycle that repeats roughly every 24 hours) governs hunger, body temperature, hormone release, and sleeping and waking patterns. That’s part of why it’s important to try to go to sleep at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning.

Without consistent sleep, you might experience brain fog, lack of energy, moodiness, munchies, and weight gain. Poor sleep can lead to an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, depression, and a compromised immune system. This means if you don’t sleep well, you might find yourself getting sick more often than your peers and co-workers, and you may take longer to recover.

 

sleep_Schedule

“You’ll feel much better after you get a good night’s sleep.”

That’s what you tell your best friend after she shares news about her recent breakup. (Right after you say: “You’re better off without him.”)

But it’s also true.

Benefits of Restorative Sleep

That’s because the restorative benefit of a good night’s sleep does indeed make you feel better. In fact, it helps you:

Make better food choices

Have more physical and mental energy for exercise, work, and play

More effectively manage your stress and emotions

And in turn, each of those factors can contribute to better sleep.  So instead of a vicious cycle that makes life harder, enough sleep sparks a virtuous cycle that makes life better.

racing_Mind

Does your brain love to dwell on worries just as you’re falling asleep? Or maybe when you wake up from a dream in the middle of the night? Instead of enjoying restful sleep, we sometimes start processing our anxieties—but without actually solving or dealing with them productively. Below are five suggestions to try the next time this happens.

Three Wins

In his book, The Gap and the Gain, Dan Sullivan talks about establishing an evening habit of looking at your day with an eye toward your successes, what he calls “three wins.” You can record these in any sort of journal or notebook, or even on a scrap of paper. The trick is to do it consistently. It helps you cultivate an attitude of gratitude and helps you end the day on a positive note. What’s more, thinking about what you want the next day to bring, your “projected wins,” gives your brain something to chew on during sleep.

If you find yourself struggling to get back to sleep, recap your day with your three wins, three things that you’re proud of, or things that went well so that you can drift off to sleep on a positive note rather than worrying about what’s to come.

breathwork_Techniques

Whenever I struggle with focus, I return to something very basic. Something most of us take for granted: our breath. Below are a few breathing techniques to try. Consider it a new tool in your toolkit, one that is completely free and accessible to anyone.

Whenever you feel like you’ve “flipped” and need to recenter yourself, focus on your breath. Where do you feel the air coming in? Into your chest or your abdomen? Is your breathing shallow and fast, or slow and deep? Breathwork helps if you are climbing a vertical wall and your heels start to bounce up and down (a sensation known as “sewing machine leg”). But it can also help if you see red, such as when a driver swerves too close. Or when some nincompoop with fifty grocery items is in the express-only line in front of you.

 

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