Friday, July 8, 2011

A little sleep!

I think one of the most forgotten aspects in exercising and living an overall healthy life is sleep. I for one, have always been a person that needs my 8 hours or you do not want to be around me! Additionally, when I don't sleep my immune system is almost always compromised and I end up sick. For the first six months after starting at my day job I kept working Friday and Saturday as a cocktail waitress. There were many times I was up at 6am on Friday, worked til 5pm, then went into my  night shift at 8pm and got off at 3am. I worked at a bar that was also open for early morning football games so I would then have to be back to work on Saturday morning by 9am. Needless to say, my body was getting no rest at all and I was sick and miserable all the time. Thankfully, I have my sleep schedule completely under control now (only one job helps a bunch) and I feel better than ever! Setting your internal clock is so important, especially when it comes to muscle growth. It is during sleep that your body releases the growth hormone- so if you aren't sleeping you are hindering your body's recovery and growth. I  know creating a schedule and sticking to it can be hard to do sometimes, so here are some things that have helped me.

1. Plan out what your "perfectly" scheduled day would look like, then figure out what you will need to tweak to get there. It may take some time, but you should eventually be able to shift things around so that you are getting the things you need to get done completed, and still giving yourself 8 hours in bed. One of the most important factors about getting a good full nights sleep is putting your body on a sleep schedule- like I've said before your body loves routine and will respond well to it.

2. Try to turn your brain off before bed. This is something that I struggle with and often find myself doing the exact opposite. My head hits the pillow and I start thinking about my day, what I'm doing tomorrow, and the list continues. I try my best to do something "mindless" before bed like watching TV so that I can wind down from the day. If I notice myself not sleeping well for a couple nights in a row, I usually reach for the Melatonin to help out-- sometimes your body needs help regulating its internal clock and the Melatonin can help. (Just make sure you have time for a full 8 hours or you can wake feeling groggy)

3. Don't nap! I used to be the queen of naps, and then I couldn't sleep and night which caused me to have to take a nap again the next day, and it created a horrible cycle. Although sleep is important, you should try to fight the urge to take naps as much as possible to ensure that you are getting at least 8 uninterrupted hours at night.

4. Don't go to bed hungry! I never ever get in bed hungry or thinking about food. First, this would probably keep me up all night and I would end up getting up to eat eventually. Second, you should always be eating/drinking slow digesting protein before bed to preserve those muscles! You don't want all your hard work to go to waste while your body is fasting over night, so invest in come Casein or have a serving of cottage cheese and some almonds before bed. Eating before bed has always been a "no-no", but if you are eating the right foods/ taking the right supplements you will actually benefit from it- plus if you get a good flavor of Casein (my favorite is chocolate peanut butter) it feels like dessert before bed... what's better than that!

This is the Casein I use, and I order from Bodybuilding.com
* Bodybuilding.com has tons of great articles if you are interested in knowing exactly what is going on in your body and with your muscles when you are sleeping! *

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