The Most Comfortable Performance Enhancer.
Do you ever receive a piece of advice that sticks with you for all time? Here’s one of mine: “Always invest in a great bed and a great pair of shoes because when you’re not in one, you’re in the other.” Too true. As a CrossFitter, you probably have the shoes covered; you rock the latest pair of Nanos, or you pause class to change into your lifters right before the WOD. But let’s talk about the other investment—your sleep.
Secondary only to nutrition, sleep is a performance enhancer that can bring big rewards.
In his article entitled “Sleeping for Performance,” Martin Rawls-Meehan states that “Exercise, nutrition and sleep make a virtuous circle comprising the three essential elements of fitness” http://library.crossfit.com/free/pdf/CFJ_Sleep_RawlsMeehan2.pdf. Rawls-Meehan points to research evidence suggesting that subjects who sleep ten hours 1) have improvements in sleep, strength, agility, and reaction time and 2) retain muscle memory for movements at a higher rate. It benefits both brawn and brain.
Among performance benefits, why not also enjoy your bed longer? Heck, that’s enough to get me to improve my sleeping habits. So how do we achieve this? I’ll address this two ways: practice and products.
Let’s first look at practice. Practical advice about sleep comes in many forms. Recalling from both Rawls-Meehan’s article and personal experience, here are my top pieces of advice for improving your sleep practices:
Never discount what sleep does for your performance in the gym, at work, and at home. Nutrition helps you with energy production, but sleep regenerates the production cycle. If you’re looking for a good New Year’s Resolution or simply a better habit in life, consider what small changes you can make to impact 7-9 hours of your every day. Adding magnesium to your micronutrient supplements is a ten-second act that improves
your 7-9 hours of sleep; moving your phone charger across this room is temporary annoyance that yields successful sleeping and waking patterns. Follow the challenge to see how your sleep can affect your performance!
Challenge: For 21 days, record a scale of 1-10 about your energy level. 1 is “exhausted,” and ten is “energized.” Record this scale in your journal for three periods:
1) during your workout, 2) during your workday, and 3) during your time at home.
Days 1-7, don’t change anything about your current sleep patterns. Days 8-14, add a practice or products change above, but only one! Days 15-21, add a second practice or products change above. On day 22, do a final journal entry about what you observed from the challenge! Post your journal comments here for others to see.
“Sleeping for Performance.” Martin Rawls-Meehan. The CrossFit Journal. Link:
Coach Josh Womack