By now you should know that it’s not just the quantity of sleep that matters, but also the quality of your sleep. Better “sleep hygiene” is how we improve the quality of our sleep.
Before we get into four important elements to better sleep hygiene, let’s talk about impact. Sleep is of critical importance. It’s effects, both positive and negative, trump any training you might be doing. In fact, sleep is of greater importance than your nutrition and even hydration. Don’t believe me? If you don’t train for two days, you will likely suffer no consequences to your health or functionality. Don’t eat for two days and you’ll be hungry, but may even benefit from a two day fast. Not having water for two days will begin to affect your health and performance, but no sleep for two days will render any human useless.
Here are four critical factors for sleep hygiene:
- Drugs. Sleep drugs mimic sleep in that your eyes are closed and you seemingly time travel, but you’re absolutely not engaging in the restorative, mandatory act of sleep. For the sake of our purposes, hours of sleep while on sleep drugs count as zero. In addition, stimulants like caffeine and depressants like alcohol hinder sleep hygiene, as well.
- Light. Sleep should occur in pitch dark. A study showed that even a small LED light exposed to the back of the knee of the study’s participant elicited a hormone response no different than that of sunlight on the skin. Light pollution affects the hormone response required to restore and recover on a cellular level. When exposed to light (natural or otherwise), the chronic release of the stress hormone, cortisol, not only impedes sleep quality but hinders the body from building lean body mass and results in fat storage.
- Temperature. We should be sleep in cool, dark environments. The act of sweating is not a restorative state, so cool it.
- Time. No, you don’t “just operate well on six hours”. If you find yourself saying things like this you’re likely really good at normalizing the under-rested state you live in. Sleep studies have been replicated countless times to show that when subjects are placed in complete darkness and isolation, they often repay a sleep debt for a few days sleeping excessive durations (10-12 hours), but normalize at eight hours per night. (SEE: circadian rhythm)
Did you know that one night of poor sleep quality of less than eight hours can affect testosterone levels? The consequences of poor sleep habits are greater than what virtually anyone will give credit for. Want more information? Former US Navy SEAL, Dr. Kirk Parsley, is making waves as the current authority in sleep hygiene.
Then, complete the following for time:
DB Snatches (50/35)
50 Double Unders
25 Pull Ups