Mr. Sandman Bring Me A Dream

How many times a week do you lie awake because your mind will not stop racing, your body is restless, or you just cannot seem to put your phone away because you are occupied by scrolling through social media? How many times do you wake up the next day to find the time seeming to drag by, struggling to be enthused about life, and feeling sorry or angry at yourself because you just could not get the rest you needed?

Going to sleep early and waking up early has always been a struggle for me. At four years old I would roam the house while everyone else slept, as a teen I would play video games from the time dinner was over through the night and into next morning when my siblings would begin to wake for school. As an adult I have not experienced much of a change in the ease of waking up or falling asleep, as I am sure my 5 AM class at Humble CrossFit can attest to. In fact, I developed a few bad habits through the years involving natural and synthetic sleep aids that did not help the matter. I am telling you all of this because I know what it is like to struggle. I am not perfect and I have not always made the right choices regarding my own health. By sharing my story, I hope that my members can avoid the mistakes that I made.

Have you ever noticed after a night of bad sleep that staying focused even on the simplest of tasks may seem difficult? Six hours of sleep or less may cause you to have a shorter attention span. People who sleep less than seven to eight hours have an increased risk to heart disease, obesity, and diabetes, which becomes counterproductive to the work we put in at the gym. Sleeping is how we as humans reset. This is the time where repairs to the body and mind take place. If we are not resting enough, these repairs do not happen in their entirety. We begin to run on partial fixes that will break down over time.  It is also important to note that too much sleep can also be dangerous. The goal is between 7-9 hours of sleep a night for the average adult. Anything below or over this can put you at risk for the diseases aforementioned. To think that something as simple as too little or too much sleep can undo progress towards better health is enough to make any of us want to turn in early. But how do we get in this habit? How do you teach an old dog new tricks?

There are a few things that we can suggest to help you catch some more sleep at night:

·      Keep a consistent sleep schedule - Try going to sleep around the same time every night so your body knows to begin winding down. Compliment this with a consistent wake up schedule too. Yes, even on the weekends.

·      Keep your room dark and cold – Cool air and little light will help your body relax more quickly.

·      Turn off all electronics – Turn off the TV and put your phone or laptop down thirty minutes prior to lying down. The lights from our electronics are proven to keep our mind in “ON” mode.

·      Ensure that your room is quiet- I like to drown out background noise by having a fan running. This too helps keep the room cool and gives our brain an ambient noise to focus on while we fall asleep.

·      Avoid stimulants 8 hours before bedtime – Staying away from the afternoon coffee or evening pre-workout at the gym may be the only change needed to fall asleep easier at the end of the day.

In addition to these tips, there are a host of natural supplements that can also assist with sleeping. These include melatonin, magnesium, lavender essential oils, as well methods such as meditation. Please do not add any external supplements to your diet without first consulting your doctor and doing extensive research for your own knowledge.

My father, as well as my girlfriend’s father, both died of heart attacks at extremely early ages. Thinking back I know that my Dad was over worked and slept too little. Was this the only cause of his condition? Absolutely not. Diet and exercise also played a huge role in this. While we work on the diet and exercise roles at the gym, we cannot as coaches force you to sleep. Implementing a consistent sleep schedule takes a huge effort from our members and one that is so important, but so often overlooked.

Tonight when you just cannot seem to turn off your favorite show ask yourself, what is more important? What is in front of me or my health? This should make the choice easy and will only be solidified by feeling well rested the next morning.