This week’s lifestyle challenge: seven hours of sleep per night, every night.
Ah, sleep. Who couldn’t use a bit more? Even Rich Froning thinks it’s an integral part of any athlete’s training. But if you’re anything like me or 90 percent of the people I know, you’ll consciously sacrifice it for a work deadline, a night out or an early-morning WOD, knowing full well that there’s a price to pay.
Here’s my other issue: Even on nights when I allot seven or more hours for sleep, I often fail at getting quality snooze time. I’m good at falling asleep, but I suck at staying there. I’ll wake up after three hours feeling like I could crawl out of my skin. I’m lucky if I doze off more than 45 minutes before my alarm sounds.
So for the third week of the Whole Life Challenge, I was determined to Rx a solid week of sleep. Here’s how I did it.
Last week’s boozy cheat and subsequent night of piss-poor slumber was no coincidence. I’ve had the same experience dozens of times in the past, and there’s definitely some science behind my issue. Check out this recent Time article about a study that revealed disruptive brain activity in people who drank before bed.
No Screens at Bedtime
Not just TV — I’m talking about tablets and e-readers, too. Personally, I’ve found that, while reading a chapter or two in an analog, paper book can induce drowsiness, skimming through articles on my iPhone gives me that exhausted but wired feeling. And before I realize it, I’ve spent a zoned-out hour tumbling down a Twitter wormhole.
And it might not be just the connectivity and temptations of social media that make getting to sleep a challenge. Check out this article from Mashable that touches on how LED lights may affect melatonin levels. Yikes.
Ever get in bed, close your eyes and get the feeling that your legs are still finishing up a set of double-unders? If my legs or hips were feeling at all tight or achy this past week, I busted out the foam roller or a lacrosse ball and did a littleself-myofascial release (even if I’d already stretched earlier in the day). Digging into my chronically tight IT bands helped loosen and relax my whole body.
By applying these few ground rules, I was able to get a pretty solid week of sleep. As for the rest of the challenge …
Last Sunday was the Super Bowl, and I’ll just say that there was more than one bad call. I went in knowing I probably wasn’t going to get out unscathed. But after a handful of chips and a pile of cheese, I quickly adopted an attitude of the “Eh, screw it” variety. Like, if I was going to lose all my points, why not really lose them? Yeah, bad call. Penalty — stomach ache. But I recovered and got back on track for the rest of the week.
Recent weather in the Northeast has made trudging to the box less and less appealing. The only way I’ve been able to deal is by switching up my workout times. I’ve always preferred the 6 or 7 p.m. WODs, but lack of sunlight makes heading to a workout in frigid temperatures even more miserable. While I still prefer the vibe of the box at night, a little dose of early-morning sunshine makes the slush a bit more tolerable.
In addition to my evening foam rolling, I’ve been pretty good about taking 10 to 15 minutes to stretch after each WOD. Plus, I’ve been doing my best to incorporate at least one yoga class a week. Check out my recent article about how yoga can improve your lifting form and potentially help your PR.
Supplements and Water
No news here. I’m a hydration machine and a Flintstones kid!
I’m going to take this challenge on the road! I’ll be leaving the cold and snow of New York for the sunshine of Miami. How will I fare in the land of Cuban sandwiches and café con leche?