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Tips for better quality sleep


Time and time again research has shown the importance of sleep on your physical and mental wellbeing. Not only is sleep beneficial for your overall health, it is also a crucial tool for sport/exercise recovery and performance. In fact, several studies have shown sleep deprivation (aka less than 7-9 hours of sleep/night) to be associated with increased heart rate, respiratory frequency, and diminished power output during training workouts. This was found to be true especially with aerobic exercise (i.e. running, cycling, etc.) but also with anaerobic exercise (i.e. weightlifting/strength training).

We all know that sleep is important for us, but how do we go about improving the quality of our sleep?

Here are my top 4 tips for better sleep so you can maximize your energy levels and workout performance:

Limit screen time prior to bed.

Exposure to screens/blue light prior to bed has been shown to diminish sleep quality and amount of sleep as well as increase daytime tiredness. Therefore, it's recommended to turn off that TV or iPad at least an hour before you're ready to snooze. Instead of winding down by looking at a screen, Dr. Andrew Watson, MD, MS, recommends spending 30-60 minutes participating in "relaxation time." This could include mobility exercises/stretching, meditating, and/or reading a book.

screen time

Get a dose of natural light shortly after you get up in the morning.

Exposing yourself to sunlight, even just for 5 minutes, early on in your day helps optimize your circadian rhythm (aka your internal waking/sleeping clock), boosts your energy for the day, and can lead to a better night's sleep in the evening. Natural light exposure could involve going for a brisk morning walk or simply standing in front of a sunlit window while sipping your morning coffee.

soaking up the sun

Speaking of your fluids.

It might be better if you wait 45 min-1 hour after you wake up prior to taking that first sip of coffee. This is because your cortisol levels (a hormone that gives you natural energy) peaks up to ~45 min after you get up.  If you drink coffee while your cortisol levels are high, this can eventually negatively impact your cortisol’s natural release. Therefore, waiting to drink your coffee once your cortisol levels are starting to decline can give you that extra energy boost you really need!

In terms of that afternoon pick-me-up, it’s best to stop consuming caffeinated beverages at least 6 hours before bed (for some maybe even earlier). This is because the average half-life of caffeine (aka how long the effects of caffeine stay in your body) is between 5-6 hours.

coffee to go

Schedule workout sessions during the peak time of your circadian rhythm.

We all have slight variances in our circadian rhythm and when we feel the most awake/energized. Working out during your peak awake time can lead to better workout performance. For most people, that peak time will be either in the late morning or later afternoon/early evening. If you do choose to workout in the evening, be sure you allow enough time to cool down and relax prior to going to bed.

tying shoes to run


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