The Importance of Exercise Recovery: Step 6 Sleep Hygiene

Sleep Hygiene: What Is It and Why Do We Need It?

Over the past several weeks I have been exploring methods of recovery. It’s not simply about resting the body after an exercise session, but about intelligently helping the body heal and move to reach healthy balance within the body.

In the first post I explain there is a constant play of stability and mobility. Certain areas in our body function best when strong and stable and other parts of the body function best when flexible and mobile.

In the second post I explore how strength training helps build the body to function optimally. I highly recommend strength training with a plan designed by a certified personal trainer, as it’s important to have a solid program and system built to work with your unique set of strengths and weaknesses. More info about training here.

In the third post I delve into stretching and self-massage.

In the forth post, I explored how stress can limit your ability to lose weight and become healthy. 

In the fifth post I explain how what we eat (whole foods) and what we don't eat (processed foods) are equally important.

In this sixth post I explain the importance of sleep for recovering from exercise. 

Sleep Hygiene is a set of routines that help us to have a deeper and longer sleep. Optimizing sleep schedules, pre-bed routine, and daily routines are all part of creating habits to develop quality sleep for ourselves.

Healthy adults need at least 7 hours of sleep per night, and sometimes more. The more physical activity we do, the more sleep we need to help recover our worked muscles as sleep enhances muscle recovery through protein synthesis and human growth hormone release.

We need good sleep hygiene because sleep brings better health.

  • Sleep restores our bodies: especially our immune, nervous, skeletal, hormonal, and muscular systems.
  • Sleep helps regulate our metabolism, including blood sugar and insulin levels. Chronically inadequate sleep is linked to gaining body fat and risk of diabetes.
  • Sleep helps us think, learn, and make decisions better. Studies show that people with chronic lack of sleep have a greater chance of experiencing depression and anxiety.  

Tips on creating a quality routine for good sleep hygiene:

  • Decide on a bedtime in advance, and start preparing for it 1–2 hours ahead
  • Limit your caffeine to the morning, and cut yourself off after 2 pm
  • 1 to 2 hours before bed, do a "brain dump" on paper by writing tomorrow’s to-dos and other stressors so you can settle your mind about your responsibilities for the next day
  • Turn off all electronic screens (TV, computer, etc.) an hour before bed
  • Slow down your activity by drinking some decaf/herbal tea and reading a book
  • Keep your bedroom a little cooler
  • Take an Epsom salts bath before bed
  • Dim the lights, darken your bedroom, use black-out curtains or an eye mask
  • Use white noise, like a fan or a special white noise device

The trick to creating lasting habit change is to start small. Pick just one of the above tips and try it for a couple of weeks. During the first few weeks it will be difficult to stick to the habit every day and perhaps you might not be super consistent. No big deal, just try again the next day. Eventually, by gradually sticking to this habit, you will become more consistent. The best way to stay to your committed is to remind yourself often of your reason why. You are worth the effort!

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