Autumn’s Tips for Recovery Sleep.
I love sleep. I mean that long, deep sleep that when you wake up, you have no idea what year it is. Plus a daily nap. Of course, as a woman, its critical to get our “beauty sleep,” but mostly I care of muscle recovery and health. I have been made fun of for being 28 years old and requiring 8+ hours of sleep like a child, but hey, each person is different for their sleep requirements. If I get a bad night’s sleep, no amount of coffee can save anyone that I interact with from my wrath. Although I don’t always get those many hours, I still try to maximize my recovery slumber.
Oftentimes my clients report that they don’t feel energetic because they didn’t get to sleep well, so I always try to figure out the issue. Do you go to bed too late and get up too early? Are you able to fall asleep but not stay asleep? Or do you just have a hard time falling asleep? Regardless of your requirements, there are some things that almost everyone can to do help improve their rest. It is just as important, or more important, than being on point with your dieting and training. Here are some things that I do to wake up feeling like I can kick ass all day.
1. Check your environment.
You bedroom should be just that. A room, with a bed….Not an office or an entertainment room. Get rid of any clutter or mess that may subconsciously draw you away from resting, and put those things in another room. When you sink into your bed at night, you should feel like you have become one with it. You are now a part of the mattress. If you happen to have a poor mattress, invest in a mattress topper. Maybe get some nice sheets (I have the Sheex sheets…totally worth the money.) Ladies, a satin pillowcase would be a great luxury item for the sake of your hair and skin.Whatever sheets you use, make sure to throw them in the washerevery 1-2 weeks. Have one good pillow to support your head, and maybe few other pillows to cuddle with, put between your knees, or to lay beside you to help keep from tossing in circles or sleeping on your stomach. There should be nothing else in your bed, like laundry, or probably the most difficult, your pets. You may have to teach them to sleep in their own bed next to yours, but having a pet that somehow takes up 85% of your mattress is not going to do you any favors. If someone (not you of course) snores louder than an air horn, perhaps they would like a snore-proof pillow or some other apparatus for an early birthday present. Or, use one of those pillows to bury your ears with. There is also some information that suggests keeping your bedroom at a cooler degree for better sleep, rather than having a room that is too warm.
2. Choose the right lighting.
Your phone or computer should not serve as a light source. There are several studies reporting how blue light from technology screens can negatively affect your quality of sleep. I am trying to work on this one myself, as my phone blows up at all hours, and I will spend my last minutes of the night to work from my phone or computer. Instead, try taking care of your business in another room before you head for the bedroom. Use warm, dim lighting (like a night light, soft bulbs, or a salt lamp), to ease you into your sleepy state.
3. Separate your day from night.
I know that I’m not alone when I come home from a long day of physical work and workouts, to clean, finish computer work, cook egg whites and wash my makeup off while stressing about everything that I need to get done. It’s easy to get caught up in these things, mysteriously pushing your bedtime back two hours. Something that I do now is set an alarm for 9pm. That signals to me that it is time to stop working or cleaning, turn my phone on Do-Not- Disturb mode, and time to start getting ready for bed. I then set a timer for 5-15 minutes, and I will make a comfortable place to tune out, meditate, or clear my thoughts from the day. What’s done is done, and no amount of worrying or analyzing can change it. Leave your day behind and focus on preparing positively for the next day. If you can sit there and Facebook on your phone for 15 minutes, then you can make 15 minutes to take a Snickers-time-out to read a book or just close your eyes. Sometimes writing things down will help you sort your thoughts better than making a list in your head all night long.
4. Prepare your body.
Just as much as it will help to mentally turn down, you need to physically relax too. If you have the chance, take an Epsom salt bath (maybe with some lavender essential oils). You can also look up some restorative or relaxation yoga poses to do in your 15 minutes of wind-down time. A quick and easy one to do is to lay on your back and prop your feet up on the wall for 2-5 minutes. In addition to this, here is a list of supplements that I use to aid in good quality sleep and recovery (please ask your physician if they are right for you before you start taking them:
ZMA (Zinc Magnesium Aspartate)
* There are other sleep supplements and prescriptions out there, but these are just some mild over-the counters options that I use
Just as there are things you can take for rest, there are slo things you should avoid in order to sleep well. Try not to take in any caffeine within 6-8 hours of your bedtime, and definitely avoid alcohol close to bedtime as this will interfere with deep sleep.
5. Nail down your routine.
Your body will become very responsive if you take it through a consistent routine. It doesn’t matter if I decide to go to sleep around 12pm or 9pm, but I have now started a routine to tell my body and mind that it’s time to sleep. Every night I make a cup of chamomile or Sleepytime tea, then I do my restful yoga poses, then I get my ass in bed and set my alarm. I will now share with you the best sleep secret that took me 28 years to figure out, and it has been such a game changer for my deep sleep: Insert ear plugs, then take cotton stretchy headband (I just bought the cheap Goody brand) and cover not just your ears, but also your EYES with it. If it is too tight for eyes, stretch it out beforehand to loosen it up. Not only do I sleep so well that if someone saw me they may think that I’m dead, but it also looks super sexy.
If you are trying to set your bedtime earlier, then start by going to bed just 15 minutes earlier every 2-3 nights.
And of course, if you just can’t seem to sleep well, you can always utilize a power nap for no more than 20 minutes. That should be just enough to take the edge off, but not take away from your quality sleep at night.
Work hard, sleep hard!