Become a champion sleeper to take your CrossFit to the next level.
Being so engrossed with flipping tyres, countless pushups, and deadlifts, we often underestimate the importance of a good night's sleep.
To improve as a CrossFit athlete, flip heavier tyres, perform more pushups, and increase our weight in the deadlift, we must treat sleep with the same disciple in which we treat training.
With the intensity that comes with CrossFit, we are continually breaking down our muscle cells. These cells best repair and recover with sleep so if we’re continually skimping on the z’s, it will take longer for our muscle cells to recover, increasing our risk of injury.
Similarly, too little sleep with such high-intensity of training will weaken our immune system. This will increase our chances of picking up a cold, disease, or infection, resulting in dreaded time off from training.
With sleep being such a valuable tool as an athlete, it cannot be underestimated. This article will discuss the importance of sleep along with a few tips we can take from professional athletes to improve your own. Increasing your performance and reducing your risk of injury.
Recovery, recovery, recovery
Maintaining a consistent schedule of getting 8-10 hours of sleep per night is crucial to recovery as an athlete. It is when we are asleep that our body can rebuild and repair our muscle cells the best and it’s the deep sleep is particularly important for recovery.
It is suspected that deep sleep is crucial to improving athletic performance as this is the point when growth hormone is released. Growth hormone is responsible for recovering much faster between workouts.
Finally, taking naps is highly-recommended if undergoing an intense CrossFit session, especially if you're not achieving the recommended 8-10 hours per night. A short 20-30 minute nap will help replenish our energy stores, vital to performing everyday tasks and even towards achieving our athletic potential.
Improve your sleep to improve your performance
Studies have shown that athletes who consistently achieve 8-10 hours of sleep per night see significant gains in all areas of their fitness. Aspects include improvements in strength, speed, and agility.
Achieving a minimum of 8-10 hours per night is especially important when performing higher intensity CrossFit sessions. This is because our muscles cells are broken down even further. Consistently achieving less than the recommended amount will increase your risk of injury and reduce your performance gains.
Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes
A previous study looks at the impact of debt on metabolic and endocrine function. Restricting sleep within participants, it was concluded that frequent sleep deprivation may hurt carbohydrate metabolism and endocrine function.
Therefore, those sleeping less than six hours per night may be at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Good sleepers tend to eat fewer calories
Recent studies show that those who sleep longer hours tend to eat fewer calories.
Sleep deprivation increases appetite hormones, such as Leptin and Ghrelin. These hormones increase our appetite and desire to eat unhealthy food. This may be the answer you've been looking for if struggling to lose weight yet maintain an unhealthy sleep schedule.
An increased metabolism allows us to burn more calories per day. A higher metabolism results in increased weight loss as well as the ability to convert food into energy much faster. This is essential to maintain bodily functions and of course, for exercise.
Achieving a consistent good night's sleep will improve our body's metabolism. This affects the inflammation levels in our body, therefore, increasing our metabolism and our ability to convert nutrients into energy.
Reduced sugar cravings… resulting in a healthier lifestyle
Consistently getting less than the recommended amount of sleep will often lead to cravings. When tired, we commonly crave sugar and caffeine to stay awake. Improving your quality of sleep will reduce these cravings, allowing you to make healthier lifestyle choices much easier.
Reducing your sugar and caffeine intake will also make it much easier to get to sleep at night.
What happens if we do not get enough sleep?
Getting too little sleep not only results in tiredness, but it will also affect our athletic performance. Effects include:
· Mood swings
· Increase of cortisol hormone
· Increased exhaustion
· Increased perception of pain
· Weight gain
In fact, sleep is also essential to protect our overall mental health. Too little and our cognitive function will be reduced, alongside our risk of developing conditions such as anxiety and depression.
How to become a champion sleeper
With sleep being so important as an athlete, we've provided some tips on how to become a champion sleeper:
· Unwind before bed (avoid the use of screens if possible)
· Use night mode on smartphone devices to reduce blue light
· Read a few pages of a book if you're struggling to sleep
· Don't be afraid to nap after a hard CrossFit session
· Create a routine
The most takeaway piece of advice to achieving high-quality, routine sleep throughout the week is through creating a schedule and habit out of it. Going to bed and waking up the same time will allow you to feel less tired, increase your productivity, and help you achieve a deeper sleep.
The bottom line
The importance of sleep is often overlooked as an athlete. With the increasing popularity of sports science and psychology research, it is becoming much clearer on the importance of sleep and how exactly to get more of it.
Creating a schedule and reducing our blue light intake before bedtime is possibly the most important piece of advice to achieving a good night's sleep. Secondly, we suggest using our champion sleeper advice/tips to take your sleep-quality to the next level.
Finally, ensure to get a minimum of 8-10 hours of sleep per night. This will increase your risk of injury, improve your athletic performance, and allow you to make substantial improvements within your training.