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Sleep – Repairing Your Body

By ShelleyB | In Nutrition | on October 17, 2011

So last week you started the Whole 30 challenge to heal your body through nutrition. And you have been committed to regular workouts. As you have started feeling better, and having more energy, let’s consider how stressed your body has been in other areas. Let’s face it, we work hard at our jobs to chase the American dream, and we want be healthy doing it, so we work out and eat healthy. That is difficult sometimes just to keep those plates spinning. Add on family time, hobbies and outside commitments like organized sports, and civic/community organizations. Simply there are never enough hours in the day. Sleep is often a low priority when we have a lot to do.

It well known by all of us, that the average adult needs about 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Yet, many of us (heck most of us) operate at something researchers call sleep debt which is the effect of not getting enough rest and sleep. A large debt causes mental, emotional and physical fatigue. Forgoing sleep therefore messes up physiological functioning and contributes to stress, inflammation, cancer, diabetes, and a whole host of diseases. In layman’s terms, our body takes a beating every day and it needs time to repair itself. Crossfitter’s, you especially, need to be interested in getting enough sleep because it can effect recovery time and reduce stress on the body. But get this… sleep can even help you lose weight. Yep, it is crucial to fat loss as it helps bodies to modulate insulin, leptin and cortisol levels. (Check out this short article on Sleep loss & risk for Type 2 diabetes)

Let’s raise a question here, why are you eating Paleo and working out? Besides looking good and feeling great, isn’t part of the answer to reduce your risk factors for health issues? If that is the case, consider getting enough sleep as part of your training regimen. As you are taking the Whole 30 challenge this month, use this time to also include carving out time to rest and restore your body through sleep. Here are some simple things to consider helping you get that good night sleep:

1. Avoid Caffeine, Alcohol, Nicotine, and Other Chemicals that Interfere with Sleep
2. Turn Your Bedroom into a Sleep-Inducing Environment: quiet, dark, comfortable temperature.
3. Establish a pre-sleep routine which allows your body to pick up cues it is time to rest: bath, brush teeth, and relaxation exercises, to name a few. Give your body a rest from technology at least ½ hour prior to bedtime.
4. Lighten up evening meals; avoid foods that cause indigestion, finish dinner several hours before bedtime. If you need to snack, make it a light one to get you through the night.
5. Balance liquid intake. Make sure you are hydrated enough prior to bedtime so you won’t wake thirsty, but not too much that you have to wake to go to the bathroom.
6. Exercise early. Allow three hours prior to sleep. Exercise stimulates the body and secretes the stress hormone cortisol that activates the alerting mechanisms in your brain.
7. Keep Your Internal Clock Set with a Consistent Sleep Schedule: Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.
8. Can’t find the time to sleep? Prioritize your activities – see what you can cut out or do later so that you can sleep. Consider less time in activities such as TV, Social Media, gaming systems, etc.
Really gang, no excuses- you have no more “special circumstances” then the rest of us. WE ALL ARE BUSY! As you can see, sleep is an important part of your healthy routine. It comes down to priority. What is your priority?

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