This Month’s Focus
No Fail November (goals recheck and the big push for your end of year goals!)
Blog’s Focus – Sleep
Sleep is by far one of the most overlooked factors that impact our performance in our daily lives. Some of us struggle with it and others can’t get enough of it. Too little and we miss out on processing and learning valuable things that we’ve learned throughout the day. Too much and we get caught up in a drowsy haze for the rest of the day. So how do we get the best out of those precious hours of shut-eye to ensure we’re at our best on a daily basis?
Why Do We Care About Sleep?
When it comes to recovery sleep is the ultimate time for our body to take a moment to rebuild our reserves for the next day. The benefits can be broken down into mental and physical aspects.
The mental side of sleep affects takes into consideration our emotional, psychological and social wellness – in essence how we think, feel and act on a daily basis. Sleep is what allows our brains to get a chance to organise, process and archive memories. Just like most things in life, work takes energy and through using energy some waste products will be created as a result. Unlike the rest of our bodies, only during sleep cycles can our brain remove the built-up toxins and waste products that occur from all the work we put it through all day! Aside from clearing cerebral plaque, getting enough hours of sleep allows us to reproduce neurotransmitters and hormones that help manage our mood and stress levels. If you feel cranky, depressed or generally low, your sleep quality may be the culprit.
From a physical perspective, quality sleep gives our bodies a chance to repair the muscles and tissues that we put under extreme fatigue through our hard-hitting workouts in the gym. Much like the cleaning processes in the brain, the rest of our bodies release a number of hormones that enable key processes for muscle development and the replenishment of energy stores. For example, Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is one of the primary compounds that helps build and repair muscles, and only with a sufficient amount of quality sleep can the body properly use HGH to do the job right. That means that the final step in getting stronger really is in fact done with our eyes closed!
So, What Can I do To Improve My Sleep Quality
So, I know getting more sleep is easier said than done. We live in a world that constantly demands our time, which makes it hard to switch off for sleep when we most need to. Even so, there are small things we can all do to try to chip away at our issues with sleep to improve the quality of the time we spend at rest.
Getting to bed somewhat consistently around the same time allows your body to recognise when it’s time to start shutting down into rest mode. Of course, it’s not the easiest to always commit to the same time every night with crazy work schedules, so in this case, try to create a ‘bedtime routine’ to help trigger your body into sleep mode. It could be anything calming that helps slow you down – journaling before bed, reading for a short period of time, or listening to a podcast. If you do go down the route of podcasts or reading, fiction tends to ease tension more as we can tend to go into a thinking spiral with non-fiction content but trying either as a pre-sleep habit couldn’t hurt to start!
As an example, my personal routine consists of having a casein shake and magnesium tablets about 30 minutes before bed and listening to a 10-minute meditation with the Headspace application. Of course, there are many factors that can potentially derail how well a routine works. Even so, sticking to a habit for a slightly extended period of time is the only real way to see if something works or if it needs to be scrapped. A 30-day window is a good amount of time to stick to before tossing and trying something new.
Tips to Help you Fall Asleep
Here are some extended things that you can do that could potentially build into your sleep rituals to help you fall soundly asleep just a bit easier.
1. Meditation is a calming activity, but there are also sleep courses to help you improve your ability to fall asleep through apps like Headspace.
2. Consider purchasing a Sun Lamp for your bedside table.This helps to replicate natural light to wake up to rather than a harsh wake up to an alarm. Some clocks even soothe you to sleep with sounds of the sea and a simulated sunset.
3. Taking casein before bed helps to keep you feeling satiated across the night and some brands include supplements that help you doze off (e.g. GABA, Tryptophan, 5-HTP).
4. Consider wearing blue light blocking lenses while watching TV or using electronics in the hours leading up to sleep. The less light the better as your brain is likely to switch off a bit better. They’re pretty cheap and easily available on Amazon.
5. Limiting caffeine across the day will help prevent you from tossing and turning wide awake at night. If possible, try limiting your caffeine consumption to the morning up until midday. For reference, caffeine has a half-life of caffeine is about 5 to 6 hours, which means it takes that long to break down half of the caffeine you consumed. This will differ depending on a number of factors, but you may not break down that late afternoon cup of coffee until midnight or later!
Can’t stay asleep?
If you’re like me and you struggle to stay asleep when you finally do fall asleep, here are a few things you can do to help keep you asleep, and some techniques to help you get back to sleep when you struggle!
Cultivate an Ideal Sleep Environment – Try to make your room as dark, quiet and cool as you can. Living in a big city makes it hard to avoid the noise from the street but perhaps consider sleeping with earplugs if the sound is really loud. Most people tend to sleep better in a cooler room than others. If you wake up in a hot sweat, play around with your room temperature to find the ideal atmosphere for you.
Brain Dump Before Bed – Sometimes it helps to have a quick notepad by your bedside, so you can get out all of the things that are running through your mind before you go to sleep. Write down that to do list that just came into your head or blurt out your frustrations to clear your mind so it’s not running all through the night.
Mid-Night Bathroom Trips – Unless you strictly regulate your liquid intake across the day this is somewhat inevitable. Instead of reaching for your phone to light your way to the bathroom, consider investing in a dimly lit night light to guide your way. You’ll resist the temptation to check your notifications that popped up overnight.
A) 20 Mins for 4-5 sets of:
Back Squat , 6-8 Reps
(On rep 1 ONLY there is a 4 second tempo down!)
Superset with: Stiff Leg Deadlfits
10 Reps as heavy as possible climbing in weight.
Rest 2min. before starting back at the back squat.
B) For Time:
DB Thrusters 22/16kg
A) Every 4min. x 5 Rounds:
5 Power Snatches @50% of 1RM
Round 2 is 4 reps @60% of 1RM
Round 3 is 3 reps @70% of 1RM
Round 4 is 2 reps @80% of 1RM
Round 5 is 1 rep @90% of 1RM
B) 10min. AMRAP:
25 Russian KB Swings 32/24kg
1 Rope Climb
(Legless if want an extra pump 😛 )
15/12 Cal Assault Bike
15 Wall Balls 9/6kg
15/12 Cal Ski
15 Wtd Sit Ups
5 Rounds: “A Quick Burner…”
15 DB Squat Cleans 20/16kg
A) 20min. EMOM:
Odd: 10 Push Jerks 60/40kg
Even: 15 Wall Balls 9/6kg
B) 10min. AMRAP:
10/7 Cal Assault Bike/Ski
Want to work on the pull and skill more?
Swap 10 Pull-Ups for 3 Muscle Ups!
Or more strict Work? Go for 7/5 Strict Pull Ups to start building it in more!
2 sets of:
100 Double Under
10 Deadlift 142.5/100kg
2 No Jump Rope Climb
5:00 b/t sets
Deadlifts should be done in 1-2 sets. Don’t pick up the bar until you are ready to hit at least 5 reps
Time Cap each set: 12:00
– Doing the open? Keep the deadlifts light and focus on the skill and mechanics of all the movements. Get the footwork locked in and really focus on the rope climbs. Breathe and play with your double under “Speeds” and “gears” for future fun!
100 Double Unders
10 DB Floor Press 20/10kg
15 Russian KB Swings 32/24kg
100 Ball Slams
Crossfit Open 20.5!!!!!
Don’t forget team! Last open WOD means lights, beer and Pizza in the evening. Come get your sweat on and support everyone going through the last and more than likely brutal final Open WOD! We will be sending it off in style for another year before having to put up with Dave Castro’s pain train!
You can read more here!
Pending on CrossFit Open 20.5!