Optimising Sleep For Recovery

Recovery is a factor which is in our control and taking it seriously will go a long way to improving our performance not just in the gym but all aspects of life. Recovery is also personal. What works for some people may not work for others so try out a few different techniques like the ones below.

 

During The Day

Recovery starts as soon as you get up, so take note of these practices to help kickstart yours.

  • Stay hydrated (approx 30ml per 1kg of bodyweight).
  • Eat enough good food (even when dieting, make sure to not deviate too far from maintenance calories).
  • Consistent Training. Those who exercise, sleep better. It’s a fact!
  • Try to keep your stress levels down. Easier said than done. If you are stressed, do things that make you happy or calm.
  • Don’t overdo the caffeine. If you find that caffeine affects your sleep, try limiting it to before 2pm. Everyone has a different tolerance to caffeine, so stick to a level that suits you and remember that caffeine can stay in your system for up to 10 hours! (looking at you night trainers).

Before Bed

One of the most important sleep practices is to maintain a sleep consistency. 

  • A consistent bedtime routine, sleep and wake schedule ensures your body is prepared to go to sleep, you’ll end up falling asleep faster and having a deeper more recuperative sleep if your body knows its time for bed
  • Some pre bed practices to avoid are: consuming alcohol, blue light (mobile/computers) & eating right before bed.
  • Some pre bed practices which assist the body in getting ready for sleep; a warm bath/shower, stretching, meditation, reading and journaling.

In The Bedroom

Creating an optimal sleep environment will go a long way towards your recovery. 

  • Ideally, find the right mattress, pillow (memory foam) and blankets (weighted) for your style of sleep.  
  • Keep your room cool, whether it’s via a fan, air conditioning or breeze. Nothing disrupts my sleep more than being hot and sweaty.
  • Total darkness is required for optimal deep sleep. Whether you find this through blackout curtains or a sleep mask.

 

Ultimately, sleep is the most important tool when it comes to recovery. Driving a vehicle sleep deprived has been compared to driving drunk. Our decision making process is impaired, leading us to make bad decisions. A lack of sleep also triggers increased levels of ghrelin, a hormone which increases hunger, explaining those food cravings after a short or disrupted night of sleep.

If you're looking to improve performance whether it be for fitness, work or just general day-to-day energy levels, you should be taking your sleep and recovery seriously. Different methods work for different people, so it is important to test and trial different techniques and see what works for you.