Why a good night’s sleep is crucial for your health and productivity
Sleep is currently the best physiological and psychological recovery tool we have available to us.
There is good evidence to indicate that a lack of sleep can adversely affect many factors related to your performance, recovery and health. A lack of sleep can negatively impact your physical performance, including your strength, power and endurance (particularly your endurance as it affects your motivation) AND your mental performance, including your reaction time and decision-making ability.
THE 3 PROCESSES OF SLEEP:
Our sleep is controlled by 3 processes. Understanding these processes can help us to understand where our sleep can go wrong and relate to the sleep tips provided below.
- Sleep Homeostasis
It’s like a rubber band, you need stretch in the band (sleep pressure) for it to be able to snap back into place quickly (fall asleep within 30 min).
Things that can negatively impact our sleep pressure are napping and caffeine. That is why it is recommended that we don’t nap for too long during the day (less than 30 min) and avoid napping and caffeine intake within 6 h of our normal bedtime.
- Circadian Rhythms
In the evening your body temperature decreases whilst melatonin secretion increases. This helps you to fall asleep and stay asleep. The opposite happens in the morning to help you wake up.
However, the timing of these changes will depend on whether you are an “early bird”, “night owl” or somewhere in between.
“Night owls” are driven to stay up and sleep in later, whereas “early birds” are driven to go to bed and wake up earlier.
If you are a “night owl” or “early bird”, you need to make sure your bed and wake times align with these drives.
- Sleep Automaticity
In that way, sleep is its own separate entity. You can’t be as prescriptive with sleep as you can be with your training (e.g. do 3 sets of 10). For example, if you set yourself the target of getting 10 h of sleep, striving to achieve that will result in you sleeping worse.
TOP 3 SLEEP TIPS:
- Consistent Wake Time
- Stop trying to ‘produce’ sleep
A word of warning on sleep hygiene. Don’t treat this like a ‘To Do’ list as its not helpful to have to perform certain behaviours to be able to fall asleep. Instead treat it like a ‘To Don’t’ list. Check that you’re not doing anything that’s going to potentially sabotage your sleep. If you are, aim to change that behaviour. If you’re not, then move on and don’t worry about it.
- Resist the temptation to ‘catch up’ on sleep by taking a long nap
Your brain is clever, if you have a bad night’s sleep, then it will automatically adjust the amount of time you spend in different sleep stages the following night to compensate.
If you have trouble sleeping at night, fight the urge to take a long (more than 30 min) daytime nap. This will reduce your sleep drive, which is the only thing that can ‘produce’ sleep.
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