By Cesar Melgar, L1 Coach, CrossFit East Bay
Many of us who have done CrossFit for some time are familiar with the recommendation of having a rest day after three days of working out. However, what about resting even on those days when we are working out? And more specifically, what about sleep? Please see the work of Martin Rawls-Meehan who published a CrossFit Journal article, “Sleeping For Performance“.
In this piece Rawls-Meehan starts from the standpoint that sleep, like nutrition and working out is an integral part of overall health. Sleep, he adds, is not just critical for short term performance but performance in the long term as well. He cites several studies that have been done on professional athletes, regular people like you and me, and the military. Researchers have shown the importance of sleep, and mostly how a sleep deprived person is more susceptible to conditions that result in disease. Besides citing these studies Rawls-Meehan explains the different cycles of sleep and how they have an effect on brain function, the production of different hormones that are key for athletic performance like HGH and Prolactin as well as overall health.
Besides the scientific findings, Rawls-Meehan also provides “do’s” and “don’ts” when it comes to sleeping. Some of them are pretty obvious, but nevertheless it is good to be reminded about them. For instance, the “do’s” include eating well, giving up smoking and caffeine after early afternoon. Also, making sure that your room is dark, cool, and quiet so that sleep can be uninterrupted. As for the “don’ts”, he recommends avoiding a big meal within 3 hours of going to bed, not watching too much TV right before bedtime, and not waking up early to do a workout unless you have had enough sleep the night before. In terms of naps, he recommends naps that are less than 30 minutes. However, if you must take a nap that is longer than 30 minutes, he suggests sleeping for a full cycle or 90 minutes. That way you won’t feel like you had jet lag.