A large component of sports and exercise is a highly active lifestyle. However, an equally as important element that balances out activity is rest. Proper sleep is what fuels a great workout, powers an individual through their game, and transforms a good athlete into a great one. Sleep is heavily linked to muscle recovery due to the production of human growth hormone (HGH) during certain REM cycles. Excellent “muscle memory” is also achieved through sleep, making it easier on an athlete to recall what they had practiced the day previously. Calcium released during the “sleep spindles” portion of sleep (in the last quartile of an 8 hour sleep) improves fluidity and performance of those motor behaviors learned in practice. Sleep is often underappreciated in today’s world, but if valued correctly, could change your fitness lifestyle forever.
The proper amount of sleep for an individual is between 7 and 9 hours a night. A large percentage of adults get 6 hours or less each night, yet top athletes often try to get 9 hours of sleep to achieve “A level” performance.
So, what is a practical way in which to master a beneficial sleep schedule? First, meet your sleep requirement every night. For most people this means adding at least an hour to your present time to sleep. Second, keep a regular sleep-wake schedule. Go to bed at the same time every night, including weekends) and get up at the same time every morning. Third, get outside for at least 15 minutes each morning, or if the sun isn’t up, expose yourself to an artificial daylight spectrum light source while having breakfast or watching the news.
A large factor in falling asleep quickly and staying asleep is nutrition. Already heavily valued in an athlete’s life, a proper diet can have many positive effects. Try keeping a diet that focuses on anti-inflammatory foods. Jan Tilley’s book, “Eat Well, Be Well” is a fantastic guide. It is always best to avoid eating dinner late at night which will inhibit sleep onset. Alcohol and difficult to digest foods are best to be avoided within 3 hours of bedtime. These include dairy, spicy foods, and meat. Healthy carbohydrates aide in sleepiness due to their release of tryptophan, a chemical that is converted to serotonin in our brain, making us drowsy. Excellent nutrition can help us sleep, which then in turn help us make healthier diet choices the following day. It’s a win-win!
One of the most important tools for a great night’s sleep lies within the power of the proper pillow that keeps your head, neck and spinal cord in a straight line. The Sleep for Success pillow (found at www.ufdshop.com) provides proper support and comfort for getting a great night’s sleep and delivering a better tomorrow. Securing 7-9 hours of sleep a night offers countless health benefits as well. General health immunity and longevity of life are increased, including a lowered risk for heart attacks, strokes, type 2 diabetes, obesity, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. Integrate these tricks into your sleep schedule, and immediately reap the wonderful benefits of a true full night’s rest in your active lifestyle!”
Dr. James B. Maas and Lane A. Morris, Sleep research and sleep educator professionals.
Dr. Maas is a leading authority and international consultant on sleep and performance, is CEO of Sleep for Success. He is one of the world’s most sought after corporate, medical, academic institution and athletic team speakers.
Lane A. Morris is a research associate at Sleep for Success and is pursuing a career as a physician assistant and sleep educator.
Dr. James Maas, the New York Times best selling author, is a leading authority and international consultant on sleep and performance. Healthy sleep has been proven to be the single most important factor to peak performance, productivity and in predicting longevity. Knowing how important quality sleep is to every aspect of one’s life, we have developed the Dr. Maas Collection to give you the ultimate night’s sleep.