Sleep Hygiene for Human Performance

Ever wonder why we “crash” in the middle of the day or why we feel the need to sleep in on Saturday and Sunday? Why one week’s workouts seem to be full of energy while the next week the bar has gained 50 pounds? Or why we struggle to lose weight when we are dieting and exercising consistently? What about why we are sore after every workout or why we lack the motivation to maintain a consistent training schedule? 

With the current growth and connection of our economic and social environments, we have left our primal instincts at the door. We have joined the march of 12 -14 hour work days with very little time to maintain the very vessel that allows us to do such things. In our quest for the “better” life we have a created a debt worse than our credit cards. One that may cost nothing now, but the interest will add up exponentially as we age. The debt is mostly silent and can be bandaged by supplementation. This debt is SLEEP. 

Our most expensive debt is sleep debt. We freely give our time away to social media, work, television, and nights out without understanding the true deprivation that we are creating within our body's. Amongst the problems that sleep deprivation cause in our daily performance function, many health issues can be traced back to, and improved with, better sleep hygiene. 

If you struggle with depression, anxiety, weight gain, hormone imbalance, gut symptoms, chronic fatigue, poor exercise recovery, and many more “illnesses”, then you may want to look at your sleeping habits. Please don’t mistake this notion that sleep alone will fix these things. By the time you have begun experiencing sleep deprivation symptoms, you have probably already caused damage to the vital systems in your body that maintain such things as your hormones, gut health, and brain health. Sleep is not a fix-all, but it’s a great place to start the process of healing and improvement in your daily performance. 

Here are 8 ways to improve your sleep hygiene:

  1. No technology 60 minutes - 90 minutes before sleep.
    1. Blue light and EMF decrease melatonin production in the evening making it difficult to fall asleep.
  2. Turn down as many lights as possible after the sun goes down, or switch to orange bulbs.
  3. Create an 8 hour sleep schedule that you can stick to 7 days per week (It’s called a Circadian “Rhythm” for a reason)
  4. No food or alcohol within 2-4 hours of bedtime. 
    1. If you must eat, eat low carbohydrate. The sugar from alcohol and carbohydrate will metabolize in the middle of your sleep causing a rise in body temperature, signaling the body to wake.
  5. Employ the use of deep belly breathing before sleep.
  6. Workouts are best when body temperature is at its peak between 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm.
  7. Keep the room cold in the evening to signal the body to slow down.
  8. Use calcium and magnesium instead of melatonin for help with falling asleep and staying asleep. 
    1. Inserting external melatonin may cause the brain to produce less over time versus forcing your body to make it naturally with better habits.