What’s the #1 recovery tool out there?
As a hard charging member of the Coastal Fitness family, you have to be able to bring your best to every day. In the gym and out.
When it’s time to drop the anchor and get after your training, you better have a fully charged battery. And once it’s over, take that same energy to whatever else your day demands.
Mentally taxing work, a bustling social life, the demands of raising a family. You want to put your all into everything you do, pushing yourself to new heights each day.
Despite the rewards of this daily action, it’s draining. So, maintaining this consistent output requires balance. Pouring yourself into the activities and people you love demands ample time for rejuvenation.
Now, you already have the other pieces of recovery dialed in: your nutrition, your mobility, your soft tissue work. Time to layer in one more.
Let’s get you sleeping like a hibernating bear.
The Breakdown of Sleep
Everything good happens when you sleep. You burn fat, repair your muscles, and clear out all the harmful compounds that accumulate in your body through the day. It’s the ultimate reset.
Despite all this, somewhere along the way sleep got a bad rap.
It’s the first thing people sacrifice, and few maintain the desire to get a great night’s sleep day in and day out. But, to bring the hustle to each day, you have to put every piece of the performance puzzle in place.
When it comes to sleep, both duration and quality matter. For the length of sleep, it’s simple: 7-9 hours, preferably 8+, every night.
And to ensure the highest quality sleep, you have to prepare your body. Give it the right stimuli so it starts the processes that make deep, restorative sleep possible.
There are two main types of stimuli:
2. Mental stimuli
Both of these work together to dictate your circadian rhythm. Your internal clock that controls when you feel awake and when you feel tired.
Lots of light and mental stimuli sets that clock to “awake mode.” Little to none of both sets it to “sleep mode.”
So, getting the best sleep possible means making sure that clock stays aligned with when you want to feel awake or get some Z’s.
Check out these 6 strategies that can help you accomplish this task:
1. Dim the lights and get off electronics at least 90 min before bed.
The light that comes off of screens is some of the most stimulating light around. Overhead lighting in your house is high on that list, too.
Regardless of the time of day, staring into your iPhone, tablet, or laptop, tells your brain that it’s daytime. The same goes for walking around a bright house.
The screens emit what’s known as a “blue light”. Blue light suppresses the production of melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep. Bright overhead lighting, like sunlight, does the same thing.
So, think about this: Does putting your laptop down, turning off the lights, and trying to go straight to sleep make sense?
That's like finishing a workout and trying to nap before the kettlebell hits the ground. Your body just isn’t in that zone.
Instead, try to shut down the electronics at least 90 min. before bed and dim the lights in your home in the evening.
Get that bright light out of your eyes so you can get into deep sleep when your head hits the pillow
For time’s when you HAVE to be on your computer before bed, you can download this awesome app called f.lux.
F.lux will adjust the settings on your screen once the sun sets. When it kicks in, your computer stops giving off that ultra stimulating blue light.
2. Keep a consistent schedule
When it comes to sleep, your body loves consistency.
It takes your circadian rhythm a couple days to adjust anytime you switch things up. That’s why you get jet lag. Unfortunately, changing your sleep and wake times every day throws your body off the same way jet lag does. Just to a lesser extent.
When you make a big change to your sleep schedule everything gets thrown out of whack. We've all felt the brain fog that switching from 10pm-7am to 2am-9am brings.
If you always make these little shifts, you won’t feel tired when you want to, won’t get into deep sleep for a long time, and will wake up groggy.
I know it’s tough, but maintaining a schedule that’s consistent +/- a couple hours will do wonders for how you feel every morning.
3. Have an evening wind down
You warm-up to workout, right? You should also warm down to go to sleep.
Preparing your body for sleep comes down to reducing stimuli. So, a mellow evening routine will get your brain prepared to send all the signals necessary for restorative sleep.
It doesn’t have to be some 3 hour long meditation session, either.
10-15 minutes of some easy stretching, maybe some deep breathing, and a little bit of reading. A real book, of course. And with the lights turned down low. That should do the trick. Just something to help shut your mind off, put you in a relaxed headspace, and get your mind and body winding down.
4. Sleep in a pitch black room.
Absence of light not only helps you go to sleep, it helps keep you asleep.
For years in college, my bedroom was about 9 inches away from the road. Every time a car drove by, I got a set of headlights shining across my face and woke up at least two or three times every night.
I felt like Kramer getting blinded by the Kenny Roger’s Roasters sign.
After about 6 months, I wised up, got a set of blackout curtains, and haven’t looked back since.
Even if you think your room is dark, make it a complete cave for a couple nights and see how you feel. I bet you’ll notice a difference.
5. Get early morning daylight
This will set your circadian rhythm for the day.
Remember, your internal clock relies on both light AND dark to prime your body to sleep well when the night rolls around. So, your body expects to get a certain amount of “daytime” and “nightime” each day.
By getting bright, stimulating light early on, you get daytime mode started at the proper time. This means nighttime mode comes at the right time as well. By syncing yourself up with the natural light and dark cycle of the day, you will lay down for bed ready to rest and recharge for the next day.
That wraps it up. Try any or all these for a couple weeks and let me know how you feel.
If you have any questions, you can shoot me an email at jack@JackPenner.com. I love hearing from you guys, so don’t hesitate to reach out.
Also, if you want more posts from me, beyond what I’m putting out here, check out my new blog over at JackPenner.com
I’ll be talking about all things related to bringing your best self to each day.
Thanks for reading, everyone.