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4 Hacks to a Better Nights Sleep

Hey there motivated individual! I have a new challenge for you. Guess what? It’s harder than any whole-food-eating, gallon-of-water-drinking, couch-to-5k challenge you’ve ever tried.

Not only that, but if you complete it successfully I promise you’ll never want to stop.

That’s why I’m challenging you to 1 month of restful nights sleep!

So why is that so hard? Because for some reason our culture idolizes the overworked, overtired, puffy eyed stories of grinding day in and day out with insufficient sleep. We seem to overvalue sacrifice and undervalue our bodies. Not only that, but I think we all forget what it feels like to operate as our 100% rested and ready to go selves. I promise that if you invest in your rest you’ll never want to go without it again.

Let’s dig in to some techniques to help us prepare for an awesome night’s sleep!

 

  1. Optimize Your Environment

 

Do more of this:

  • Make it dark

Our bodies sleep cycle is regulated by a hormone called Melatonin, produced in the Pineal gland. Melatonin is released as the day grows dark and tells our bodies to begin shutting down. Any exposure of our bodies to light will reduce the release of Melatonin and could potentially disrupt the sleep cycle. Try blackout curtains, removing any sources of light in the bedroom, or even a sleep mask to really turn out the lights!

 

  • Turn down the thermostat

As drowsy as it makes us to sit by the fire, it actually isn’t ideal to be in a hot environment for a good night’s rest. According to Dr. Peter Attia, “the lowering of our body temperature at night is a cue for our brains that it’s time to go to sleep and increases the proportion of time we’re in delta-wave (translation: deep) sleep.” So what’s the ideal temperature? Most studies show that 68 degrees Fahrenheit is optimal for sleep.

 

Don’t do that!:

  • Checking email before bed

Technology and sleep appear to be mortal enemies. A very “neither can live while the other survives,” Harry Potter/Lord Voldemort type of scenario. Staring at a screen make our bodies think we still need to be alert, active, and ready for action. AKA not drowsy, calm, or relaxed. Best practice: No screens in the bedroom. Turn off phones, computers, and television 30-60 minutes before bedtime to let your body know it’s time to shut down.

 

  1. Smart Consumption

 

Do more of this:

  • Eat protein before bed.

To ensure a restful night of sleep it is important to be aware of how we’re fueling our bodies throughout the day.Some studies have shown that eating a high protein snack before bed

resulted in significantly fewer wake episodes compared to carbohydrate based snacks or a placebo. Try a protein shake, a late night omelette, or some greek yogurt and peanut butter to fuel your slumber.

 

Don’t do that!:

  • Drink coffee after 12pm.

Caffeine can have seriously disrupting effects on your sleep.Try to avoid alcohol, tea, and any beverages that alter your state, dehydrate, or have you running to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

 

  1. Develop a Routine:

 

Do more of this:

  • Set a bedtime alarm.

We are creatures of habit and our routines have a profound effect on how our bodies behave. By scheduling out a bedtime routine each night our bodies will be primed for a great night of sleep. Try setting a bedtime alarm 8 or 9 hours before you wish to wake up. This is the cue to start your bedtime routine. Put your cellphone away, take care of your bathroom business, and settle down in bed with a fictional book or a journal to reflect on your day.

Pro tip: If you have pet get them in a routine that helps you stay on track!

 

Don’t do that!:

  • Wait until you’re tired.

Consistency is king when it comes to a good night’s sleep. If you want to wake up rested you have to exercise the discipline to shut down at a reasonable hour each night. Whether it’s turning off the TV or signing out of work emails, it has to be an active choice. If you continue to stimulate your mind, it won’t be able to recognize that it has to shut down for the night.

 

  1. Use your physiology to unwind

 

Do more of this:

  • Stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system

Our bodies respond to the environment and are always in one of two modes.

  1. Sympathetic aka “Fight or Flight”
  2. Parasympathetic aka “Rest and Digest”

 

We can hack our parasympathetic nervous system to initiate the healing benefits of our rest and digest state. Try taking a hot bath before bed, gently massaging or foam rolling your muscles, or practicing long slow deep breathing.

 

Don’t do that!:

  • Strenuous Exercise

Exercise is incredible and will often help promote a deeper sleep. However don’t try to squeeze your workout in too close to bedtime. Training will ramp up your bodies Fight or Flight response and it may take some time to wind down after the fact. Try to wrap up your workout 2 hours before bed and you’ll be sleeping like a baby in no time.

The Purpose of Intensity

The Purpose of Intensity

Constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity.

When you lookup the definition of CrossFit, this is the first sentence you will see. This basically sums up every other part of CrossFit outside of nutrition. So, for a moment stop and think about the movements you do at CrossFit and think of how they are functional. Pressing, running, pulling, pushing, jumping, picking things up…the list is long but not endless. There is a functional purpose in everything we do, if you don’t see the purpose, ask a coach, they should be able to answer that, quickly.

Now think of those same movements…do you perform them at High Intensity? If you’re not then it’s not CrossFit.

What High Intensity DOES NOT look like…

It’s not doing heavy deadlifts with terrible form because you are trying to keep the intensity high. That’s called an ER visit.

Intensity is not doing kipping pull ups because you can do more but have terrible shoulder strength and can’t do 3 strict pull ups. That’s called a torn rotator cuff.

The list goes on.

What intensity looks like…

Doing 5 more burpees when you feel like you’ve hit your limit and want to stop.

Doing 20 straight wall balls (because you know you can) instead of breaking it up into two sets of 10.

Doing heavy deadlifts at sets of three without dropping the bar in between each…and…every…rep.

Doing 65# thrusters because you know your form will go to crap after 5 at 95# but there are 15 in each set.

Going all out in a 12min AMRAP, instead of knowing you’ll be there for 12 minutes regardless so you might as well sand bag it.

“Discomfort creates adaptation, but it can be very tempting to avoid the continuous discomfort needed to keep driving adaptation—even as a CrossFit athlete who knows its rewards.” CrossFit Journal article Elliptical Syndrome Cripples Fran, Helen

Before I wrap this up, look at the workout called FRAN. 21, 15, 9, reps of 95# thrusters and pull ups. Regardless of how long you take to do the work, the work stays the same, it’s 45 reps of thrusters and pull ups. But if you can get that work done in five minutes, instead of 10, that’s where the results come. Intensity. If you can’t do the work in 5 minutes, maybe you need to lower the weight to keep the intensity.

Talk to your coach about how to get the best intensity out of every workout.

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