Sleep Challenge Follow Up

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So we just recently wrapped up the 2 week sleep challenge. First, I want to congratulate those that took the initiative to track their sleep. Taking control of your life starts with you. Secondly, I want to address why we did the sleep challenge as well as what to do with the information you gained. It may seem like an odd challenge from a gym, however your sleep is an important part of your fitness. This is not something that is unique to our gym. Many experts in the field and related fields, emphasize sleep to optimal performance in life and our athletic endeavors.

 

Why this challenge?

As people, we have a tendency to inaccurately assess our habits. This can lead to a skewed perception of our present state. The purpose of this was to give each individual some data to objectively evaluate their sleep habits. Then we can look at the results in a way that encourages appropriate action towards improvement. When we have the numbers staring back at us it easier to connect our habits with their possible consequences. It is easy to lose sight of these consequences as we may not feel the true detriment, nor see them for years, . This is especially true if you are younger because your hormones are most naturally resistant. I encourage you to take a good look around you. Our nation is not doing so hot in terms of fitness and health, one day that could be you.

 

How does this relate?

A common definition of Physical fitness is the ability to perform a specific task. Often in this definition we focus on building our work capacity to be able to carry out our tasks. We also need to consider the ability to perform a task not only once, but multiple times. Hopefully we don’t keel over right after doing something. This emphasizes the ability to be resilient. Sleep is essential to our resiliency because it restores our body and optimizes our hormones. This leads to more than just achieving at the gym, it also means better performance in every task of your life… and for years to come! Want to get stronger, leaner, smarter, healthier, happier? Then include sleep in your definition of fitness.

Does this mean that you will always get 8 hours of sleep every night or fall apart and instantly have type 2 diabetes? No of course not. Times of less sleep will happen. Though, the less they happen the more functional and resilient you can be in times of lack of sleep and stress. They should be the exception not the rule.

There will always be those outliers out there than can do more on less. They are not you with your unique genetic code, so be wary of following their example. This is where you need to figure out is best for you. Also, while you may feel that you can do great on less sleep, that doesn’t mean you are at your best. The research states that even when you feel “ok” lack of sleep is negatively influencing your performance (cognition, recovery, physical). It might just come down to whether or not you want to be the best you possible can be, or just be good enough to get by.

 

What to do with your results?

Now that you have this fancy new data, what should you do with it? Below is a step-by-step process for using that data to improve your life and performance.

1) Figure out if you had enough sleep: Calculate your sleep debt
  • Did you fall between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night?
  • In the two week period you should have slept between 98 and 126 hours (higher training loads should bring you closer to the high end)
  • Subtract your total 2 week sleep time from this number to get your Sleep debt (sleep bot does this automatically)
2) Gauge your sleep quality:
  • Ways to gauge: lots of movement/noise (apps), How you felt the next day (written), look for patterns (i.e., certain days that you slept more/better than others)
  • The sleep cycle app already gives you a quality percentage, sleepbot has stars that you mark to gauge quality.
3) Evaluate your Sleep Hygiene (habits):
  • Read the Sleep write up for recommendations
  • Compare your sleep habits to the recommendations
  • List the habits that follow and don’t follow the recommendations
4) Take Action:
  • Pick either the easiest thing (aids in behavior change), or the most detrimental thing (greatest improvement) of your sleep habits to change
  • Write a plan:
    • Example: For the next two weeks… 1 hour before bedtime I will: turn off the tv, brush my teeth, and dim the lights.
  • Stay accountable: Tell someone about your plan that will check up on your progress
  • Use your sleep tracker and compare to previous results

 

Snatch Adam Cristantello ATC, USAW-L1SP, CPT

Co-owner of Nova Fitness

Adam’s 14 years of strength training experience, to include sports performance and a degree in Sports  Medicine, has led to his prioritization of teaching a healthy perspective towards exercise and wellness.  This is important because a misaligned perspective can lead to short-term results and long-term  problems/plateaus. He emphasizes building a solid fitness foundation based on quality movement, a healthy lifestyle, and a supporting mental perspective (goals, current health and psychological state, life priorities, etc.).

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