Taking Care of Nutrition – Step 3

How is it coming so far? I hope the first two tips were useful. To recap, your first objective was to write your goals down and put them in places that would prevent you from making destructive decisions (as far as your goals are concerned). The second step was to drink more water. If you need a recap, take a quick look at those articles and handle those two first.

Step 3 is sleep. While you can get away with your body sleeping less with less exercise, if you’re really trying to up your game, you need to sleep more and let your body recover from the activity you put it through. For an athlete, I would recommend (as research suggests) 8 – 9 hours of sleep every night and a short 15-minute nap during the day if you can fit it in.

If you aren’t an athlete and don’t exercise more than 3 – 4 times per week, once a day, you can probably get away with 7 – 8 hours. If you do absolutely nothing but move through life, you can likely get away with 6 – 7 hours without negative consequences. Remember getting through it is not the same as getting through it without consequences.

Most people know who Usain Bolt is. He holds a few world and Olympic records (100m, 200m, team relay) and has many Gold Medals at the Olympics (distances mentioned above). What did he say in an interview about what’s important in training? “Sleep is extremely important to me – I need to rest and recover in order for the training I do to be absorbed by my body” – Usain Bolt.

An article from Fatigue Science stated Roger Federer gets 11 – 12 hours of sleep a night. Lebron James gets 12 hours of sleep.

What happens when you don’t sleep well?

From an athlete’s perspective, you lose performance. Your body is not able to output the same power and performance because your muscles don’t have the energy. There’s a good chance you’re still recovering from your previous workout and you’re asking your body to do more with less. People who plateau early in their training often plateau because they don’t get enough rest between workouts (sleep or just rest in general if they are trying to go from 0 – 5 days a week of training).

From an every day person perspective a lack of sleep leaves you irritable, open to poor decision making, cognitively “checked out,” and can often be followed up with bouts of depression and anxiety. Despite our best hopes, coffee can’t replace our body’s need for sleep. When people are tired they often turn to food for quick energy (our body will crave sugar) and it leads to obesity or in the least weight gain and feelings of failure (nutrition related).

It’s up to you to prioritize your sleep. My goal for you this week, one week at a time, is to start going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. From there start changing the time you either wake up (if you can) or go to bed. I’m only assuming you have the ability in your life to do one or the other. If you don’t, include a nap that is longer than the average mid-day. If you can’t get any of those, write me and let me know what job you have that wakes you up before 5am, doesn’t give you a break during the day and sends you home at 9pm. Yes, there are some exceptions, but not many.

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