However, unless you pay attention to the amount and quality of sleep you get, NOTHING ELSE MATTERS.
Not the training you do, not the food you eat, not the supplements you take, nothing. Sleep is literally the simplest and most effective performance enhancement you can do. Want to lose weight: Sleep. Want to gain muscle: Sleep. Want to go faster: Sleep. Want better cognitive performance: Sleep.
If you look at what professional athletes are doing to improve performance, extend careers and set new records, the number one answer is sleep. They are putting as much work into sleeping more and better as they are in the weight room, on the bike, on the track, ect. Think I’m making this up, check out Instagram and see how many athletes have mattress sponsors. Get on the internet and see how many professional teams have sleep coaches on staff.
Next, remember that sleep is a productive activity. You are recovering, growing, sleep is an anabolic state. After you’ve been asleep for 1 hour your body releases testosterone and HGH. These hormones are integral for muscle and bone growth. For each additional sleep cycle you have at night, you increase the amount of time these key hormones are at an elevated level in your body.
Lastly, your sleep needs to natural. “Sleep” induced by medications like Ambien, or assisted by alcohol is not productive sleep. Ambien puts you into a state of unconsciousness that only resembles sleep on the outside but on the inside, might as well be awake. As for everyone’s favorite drug, alcohol, it is a depressant that disrupts normal sleep cycles and suppresses REM sleep.
I can literally go on for hours with what I’ve learned about sleep from reading “Why We Sleep,” but this seems like a good place to start.
The scary facts:
- After 12 – 14 days of sleeping 6 hours per night, you have the cognitive ability of someone who is legally intoxicated.
- With 5 hours a night or less for one night, your driving ability is the same as someone who is legally intoxicated.
- Sleeping 6 hours a night or less increases your risks of cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s.
- Need more than that? Check out “Why We Sleep” by Matthew Walker Ph.D.
What can you do to improve your sleep:
- Go to bed 30 min earlier then try to go to bed and get up at the same time each day
- Take the TV and phone completely out of the bedroom and make the room as dark as possible.
- No computer or phone screen time within 60 min of going to bed (read a paper book instead).
- Take a hot shower before getting into bed but keep the bedroom as cold as possible.
- Stretch before getting into bed.
Sleep Well and Perform Better,
– Coach Mike