January 29, 2016
Today’s guest post is from Steven Moniz — Founder, Strength and Conditioning Coach at Monvida Sports Inc.
Never underestimate sleep!
As athletes and mountain bikers, we are constantly looking for ways to improve and increase our performance, both on and off the trail. Lifts can increase power, big climbs can increase cardiovascular health and yoga can increase flexibility — but none of it is effective if you don’t have the energy and output to effectively focus on your workout.
Now what if I asked you, have you been getting sick often? Have you been getting injured more often? What about not feeling rested when you wake up? Are you starting to lose the motivation you once had for competing?
Of course, if you answered any of these questions with a ‘yes,’ there can be many factors that are contributing to these feelings. Stress in life is starting to eat at you; your nutrition hasn’t been on par, or having a nagging injury that won’t go away — the list can go on. One of the biggest things that people overlook when competing at a higher level is not getting enough rest. We live in a society that doesn’t stop. We are constantly on the go and feel pressure to keep up. Unfortunately, we usually sacrifice the most important thing first – sleep. We wake up earlier and go to bed later to fit more into the day –but what happens to your body when you aren’t getting the proper amount of Zzz’s?
Sleeping is your body’s time to recover from the stress of training and daily life. This is the time when your body is repairing itself and growing stronger.
WHEN YOU SLEEP…
- Human growth hormone is released in spurts and energy stored in your muscles called glycogen is replenished
- Damaged cells are repaired
- And your cortisol levels (stress hormone) is being catabolized
WHEN YOU DON’T GET ENOUGH SLEEP…
- Your body doesn’t have the proper time to increase those glycogen stores, which leads to decreased energy and performance
- Your cells don’t have enough time to build, leaving the window open to potenial injuries and illnesses
- Your mood and emotional repsonses can be off — causing you to be irritated
- On top of all that, if you’re riding and working out daily, “overtraining” is a real threat — without enough sleep you will burn out
You’ll notice when you or someone else is getting the proper amounts of sleep. Their intensity in the workouts is there, they are motivated, and are constantly progressing and getting stronger as they train. There is no compromise when it comes to getting a good restful sleep!
Now you might ask, what is the right amount of sleep to get, and how do I shut off this very active mind of mine?
The right amount of sleep can range depending on age, habits and your activity but anywhere between 7–9 hours a night should set you up for success during the day.
5 SLEEP HABITS THAT WILL MAKE YOU FEEL MORE ENERGIZED…
1. MAINTAIN A REGULAR SLEEP SCHEDULE — GO TO BED AT THE SAME TIME, AND WAKE UP AT THE SAME TIME EVERYDAY (YES, THAT MEANS THE WEEKEND TOO!)
It’s challenging, but try to wake up at the same time everyday — and go to bed at the same time. Maintaining a regular sleep pattern will set your internal clock and improve the quality of your sleep. It can be tempting to sleep in on the weekends, but in the long run it will make you feel more tired.
2. AVOID SUBSTANCES LIKE ALCOHOL, CAFFEINE, AND NICOTINE HOURS BEFORE BED
Alcohol can definitely put us to sleep faster, but the consequence is you miss out on important stages of sleep, including the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage, that allows us to wake up feeling refreshed. Coffee is a strong stimulant and boosts your body into being alert, ultimately counterproductive when you’re trying to fall alseep. As for nicotine — it’s also a stimulant and can keep you awake at night, it’s also not helpful for those cardiovascular workouts.
3. AVOID ‘SCREEN TIME’ PRIOR TO BED
IT’S EASY TO LOSE TRACK OF TIME WHEN YOU’RE BROWSING THE WEB, OR THINKING ABOUT WATCHING ONE MORE EPISODE ON NETFLX. MAKE A POLICY OF NO ‘SCREEN TIME’ AT LEAST ONE HOUR PRIOR TO LIGHTS OUT. YOU WILL FEEL MORE RESTED IN THE MORNING, AS IT GIVES YOUR BODY MORE TIME TO UNWIND BEFORE YOU FALL ASLEEP.
4. TRY NOT TO NAP LATER IN THE AFTERNOON
Who doesn’t enjoy a quick cat nap? Unfortunately naps can disrupt your normal sleep patterns. It’s important to listen to you body — if you have been extremely active, completed a big race or been hard on your body — then definitely think about napping, but be conscious of how it could effect your overall sleep.
5. PUT YOUR MIND TO SLEEP GRADUALLY – READ A BOOK WHILE YOU REST IN BED
Reading a book before bed helps quiet the mind from the stress of the day. Keep a book beside your bed and get in the habit of reading a few pages before you turn the lights off.
Maintaining a solid sleep regimen will not only help you recover and increase your overall performance, but you will also make you feel more energized.
Write down a pre-bed routine that’s right for you, and see if you feel more energized throughout the day!
Looking for helpful health and training tips? Check out other Training, Nutrition and Health articles.
About the Author: Steven Moniz is the Founder and Strength & Conditioning Coach at Monvida Sports Inc. After training and coaching individuals for seven years, Steven has learned that people need goals—something to drive them —to get them to push harder, faster, and remain committed. Monvida pushes athletes to exceed their goals through private training sessions, classes, online programs and sports therapy for all athletes. Steven has fused the things he loves in life: training, helping people, and adventure sports.