sleep rules

This week has found me attending to a few late night commitments. Mind you a late night for me is anything after 10pm. My snooze time has been compromised. Not good. I crave sleep during the day (and buckets of coffee) and given the choice I rather take a nap than eat. More importantly I’m cranky and fantasies of running amok with a blunt object around the office come to me way too often. Not good for my boss. Ha ha.

Sleep is important. Check. Why is it that it can ruin my day so much to have a bad night’s sleep? CrossFit SF has the answer.

We already know that brain function is slightly decreased with missing sleep. But the real reason sleep matters is because all of the good hormones and growth factors that are released during the deep sleep, stage 3 and 4 periods. This is your body’s time of peak anabolic activity (build muscle, burn fat, repair tissues, etc.) and occurs throughout the night but with diminishing efficacy.

If you aren’t getting enough of this deep, quality sleep, chances are you aren’t optimizing recovery or performance. You are in fact creating stress hormones that are trying to kill you. Your body treats lack of sleep like a direct stressor, the same as starving, or being chased by a lion. So quit being so cavalier about your late nights and crappy sleep.

The goal is to get as much stage 3 and 4 sleep as possible. To this end, here are a few sleep hygiene guidelines.

1) Try to go to sleep at the same time every night
2) Avoid coffe and alcohol before bed
3) Sleep in the blackest, darkest room possible
4) Sleep in a cool room
5) Treat your sleep as importantly as you treat your workouts and nutrition

Think of sleep as recovery. And recovery completes the exercise and nutrition trifecta.


Keep a sleep journal for a week. Track hours slept/bed time/awake time/ and note when and how much caffeine/alcohol was consumed before sleep. Also note how your performance was during the day. See any patterns? Are you trashed by the weekend. How much “blue time” are you serious about getting in the chart above.

Women’s Health magazine also has a special report about the need for good sleep and another really good one on taking back the night (good if you are the one high-fiving all 100 sheep).

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