Thursday, August 4, 2011

Sleep...the common missing link.

The key (and often missing) ingredient in maintaining and sustaining a healthful lifestyle is the quality of sleep you're getting or not getting. For athletes and individuals where exhaustive physical exertion is a day to day routine this is even more crucial as your body's immunological and repair functioning is at it's peak while in deep sleep. Without adequate rest and sleep hygiene, you are putting yourself at a disadvantage to not only grow muscle tissue but repair the tissue you've been breaking down in workouts. This equates to decreased strength, stamina and power as well as an increased chance of injury while working out. You likely have a dental hygiene routine, so do yourself and the hard time you put in at the gym a favor and follow these simple rules for proper sleep hygiene as recommended by the Life Extension Foundation:

Getting a good night’s sleep starts with good sleep hygiene.
Experts recommend the following:

Go to bed and rise at the same times every day, even on weekends.
Maintain a bedtime routine, doing the same (relaxing) activities every night.
Do not use the bed for anything but sleep and sex.
Sleep in a dark, quiet room. If necessary, mask ambient noises with a fan or other “white-noise” generator. Or try earplugs.
If you have not fallen asleep after 30 minutes, get up and sit quietly in another room. Do not fret about your lack of sleep. After 20 minutes, retire to bed again. Repeat as necessary. Known as stimulus control therapy, this approach to falling asleep helps reassociate the bedroom with restful sleep rather than stress over lack of sleep.
Avoid caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol in the hours preceding bedtime.
Exercise routinely during the day to improve onset and quality of sleep.
Avoid napping during the day.