With the New Year upon us, and the stresses of a crazy 2015 holiday season in the rear view mirror, it’s vital that we properly rest and recover from the most wonderful, yet often hectic time of the year in order to make 2016 our best year ever. With that being said, my first blog post is probably the exact opposite of what you’d expect to get back to the grind this New Year. However, it's just as important.
My belated holiday gift to you is one that we all wish we had more of every morning….the gift of sleep. We’ve all heard how important sleep is towards recovery but until I made myself aware of some of the specifics, I admit I undervalued its importance. For example, did you know that sleep can improve the strength of our immune systems? Or that sleep can even improve memory and brain performance? Getting a better night’s rest means that you can perform better, both mentally and physically the next day. So with that being said, allow me to help you out with a couple of insanely simple tips you can make starting TONIGHT.
1. Make the room DARK!
Your body produces what's known as melatonin (or our own natural ZZZquil) that helps put us in a state in which we’re ready to sleep. For those who use an iPad or watch TV before bed, even a little bit of light can inhibit that melatonin production. Whether we realize it or not, those cell phones that for many of us double as alarm clocks (guilty), never stop giving off radiation which interferes with the bodies ability to get into the most relaxed state possible, whether we’re chatting on them or not. Even charging your device on the nightstand near your head can make the job more difficult. So charge up somewhere else and stick to a regular alarm clock, or a rooster. Be disciplined; give yourself X amount of minutes doing what you need on your electronic devices, then shut them off!
2. Cut out Caffeine in the evening
As simple as this may seem, it's stunning to see how many people neglect to follow this important rule…put down the coffee, soda, insert any caffeinated product here, in the hours leading to bed. Many new studies have shown, and brace yourself for this….caffeine keeps us awake! Stick to drinking herbal tea or water in the evening before going to sleep.
3. Wake yourself WAY up
Every day, we endure what is known as a Cortisol Awakening Response. In not so scientific terms, that means we can improve sleep quality by improving how quickly we feel awake in the morning. A good way to do this is to expose us to a few minutes of sunlight ASAP when getting up and out of that bed. Natural sun is ideal, but a lamp will do as well. It basically serves as a nice shot of Vitamin D first thing in the morning. Wake yourself WAY up in the morning, and you’ll feel WAY tired by nighttime.
4. Open Your Airways
Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night and your teeth hurt from clenching or you are having trouble correctly breathing? This is very common, and one of the best ways to combat those issues is with a GuardLab Night Recovery Guard. This custom recovery mouthguard allows you to get a better night's sleep and to recover quicker and perform better tomorrow by increasing your airflow. The low-profile design of the guard will help deliver improved sleep and will also help prevent costly damage to your teeth from light clenching and grinding. You can even use this mouthguard after you're done training at the gym to help improve your recovery. Wear this mouthguard just before going to sleep and remove when you awake feeling refreshed.
5. Stick to a Routine
Lastly, and this one I have been guilty of in the past so I can vouch for it’s effectiveness: have a routine. The body is a smart machine and benefits from repetition. So get it used to sleeping and waking around the same time every day and it will learn to fall asleep and wake up faster.
By Chris Manno