16 September 2014

Sleep. Just do it.


If you sleep the recommended 8 hours a day - you'll spend about 26 or so years asleep over the course of your lifetime.

Obviously if you're Margaret Thatcher, you only sleep for about half of that, but she spent a lot of time being very crotchety and bringing a country to it's knees, so I'm not sure she was particularly thriving on the sleep deprivation.

Sleep too much and you're edging towards Rip Van Winkle territory.  That didn't end too well either - he woke to find himself a monarchist long after it was sensible.  Yet another cautionary tale you might say.

So the important part of sleep is getting the right amount.  And like all things this requires practice.  I didn't become an elite athlete by just turning up, training half heartedly, talking the legs off donkeys and then bumbling along for 23 kilometres.  Actually, that's exactly how it happened but I'm just boasting.  Most aren't as blessed with the gift of natural athleticism.

So sleep. If you don't sleep enough it will kill you.  So as a fitness basic - it's up there.  If you don't sleep enough you increase your risk of heart disease, cancer, obesity and dying doing something daft like sleeping as you drive.

As an interesting fact - if you're into fitness for weight loss - if you swap an hour of television every night for an hour of sleep - you can lose an addition 6 or 7 kilograms a year.  Another one - if you're into fitness to get laid - tired people have less sex.  If you have less sex you have to do more traditional forms of moving like walking or running to make your required 30 minutes of moving, 4 times a week.

So here's how to sleep.

1. Choose which 8 hours are going to be your sleep time.  For instance: if you work nights - Starting at 10pm and sleeping until 6am is probably not best.  If you have children that always rise at 5 am, the bad news is that you need to be in bed by 9pm.

2. Decide where to sleep.  Ideally it's long enough and wide enough.

3. Work on the temperature.  You don't want it too hot or too cold.

4. Allow for fresh air - opening your window a crack so you get some fresh air into the room means you don't basically gas yourself on your own carbon dioxide.

5. Turn off lights.  All of them. Yes Nick, including the one in the bloody bathroom.

6. If you have a TV in your room - get rid of it.

7. Turn off phones, ipads, computers, close your books, have a sip of water. (Yes Jen I know - I'm a hypocritcal fitness blogger but all top athletes have secrets)

8. Lie down.  Assume the position.  The position is whatever works for you.

9. Close your eyes.

10. Go to sleep.

When you wake up about 8 hours later you will have achieved the following to support your fitness goals:

1. Memory consolidation - anything you learned yesterday has had time to sink into your brain so you don't forget it.  Muscle memory anyone?

2. Refreshed all the body bits that process food and regulate hormones and what not.

3. Fought off infection, disease and the grumps

4. Reduced your risk of cardiovascular hiccups, high blood pressure and what not.

5. Improved your chances of not doing something daft like falling asleep at the wheel or putting your shirt on inside out before a job interview.

6. Energy.  Bucket loads of it apparently.

So your mission my fitness freaks is this - sleep more.  And for those of you that are not fitness freaks - sleep more.  And beloved daughters of mine - SLEEP MORE!  Please.

It's a win for people everywhere! Good night!

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