Sleep Your Way to Recovery

SleepConfession time—sleeping is something I’ve never been really good at, and I know I’m not the only one. There are just so many hours in the day and we often sacrifice sleep to take care of it all. And once you have children, they can be the source of sleepless nights. Take BRD Sport’s own Mica, who is currently training for the NYC Half Marathon. In addition to juggling a crazy schedule of working and being a mom, she is trying to eat healthy, keep up with her training schedule and get enough sleep. Unfortunately, being woken up by her 1-year-old in the middle of the night has caused some unforeseen bumps in her training over the past few months.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, the recommended amount of sleep is seven to nine hours for adults, but nearly 30 percent of adults get less than six hours of sleep per night. And while people say that they don’t “need” that much sleep, those of use who are training for a race or working out on a regular basis actually do.

While most athletes are aware how important nutrition, hydration and stretching are to training, when it comes to Stretch“rest and recovery,” many think that it just means taking a day off from the gym. And although taking time off so that they don’t overtrain (yes, you can train too much) is incorporated to most training regimens, sleep is often overlooked.

When we are sleeping the body has a chance to repair and recharge. So, a good night of rest isn’t just beneficial for our brains—it is also very important for short-term recovery. It as simple as this—because our bodies aren’t moving, the muscles have a chance to repair themselves. In fact, while we are getting some shuteye, growth hormone is naturally released, improving muscular recovery and regeneration.

Here are some tips to help you get to sleep easier:

  1. Write it all down—map out your week, because if you create a plan for yourself, you are much more likely to stick to it. So plan your meals, training schedule and bed times and stay as close to it as possible.
  2. Maintain a regular sleep schedule
  3. Keep the room dark, cool and quiet
  4. Limit you caffeine intake, especially in the afternoon
  5. Unplug from all electronic devices at least one hour before bed
  6. Create relaxing bedtime routine

Type_sleepAnd if you really have trouble getting to sleep like me, try the 4-7-8 Breathing Exercise (also known as The Relaxing Breath) pioneered by Dr. Andrew Weil. A simple breathing routine that can be done in bed, the exercise can be done in just three easy steps:

  1. Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
  2. Hold your breathe for a count of seven.
  3. Exhale completely through your mouth making a whooshing noise to a count of eight.

The cycle can be repeated three more times, for a total of four breaths—but I’m usually half asleep through the second round.

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