Coach Mike Lee Talks Sleep

 In Blog

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Sleep, everyone’s favourite portion of the day when it all goes well. With lack of sleep comes a huge number of problems.

Let’s look at sleep for a second as an entity that directly affects physical and mental capacity to perform work. Not the work that you perform from 9-5 sat down, moving about as much as a decrepit sloth during a dry Australian Summer. I’m talking about the life prolonging, feel good work you perform on a daily basis when you bring yourself down, come rain or shine, to your haven, the gym.

I’m going to address the impact hormones have on our sleep and how you can still sleep like a baby in the madness of a big city.

We have a variety of hormones that impact our sleep and another few that are impacted BY sleep.

The hormone best associated with sleep is melatonin.

This beauty of a hormone dictates how long you sleep, how deep you will sleep and generally the quality of sleep. It’s a temperamental diva of a hormone that only comes out to play during darkness.

When the sun goes down your body starts to feel a little sleepier and this is due to melatonin being produced by the pineal gland in your brain.

Even the slightest bit of light can be detected by your brain which leads me onto sleep routine.

Sleep routine

Technology can have a positive effect and negative effect on the brain. Lets talk briefly about the negative effects. We want to think about the amount of gadgets and screens you have in your room. Ideally we want all of these turned off, including the flashing lights of chargers and power outlets at least 1 hour before bed. This will help maximise the amount of melatonin your body produces and highly reduce the chance of you waking through the night.

Waking ritual

Do you hate the sound of your alarm? Consider downloading sleep cycle if you want a cheap option to improve your sleep. It will detect a time when you are moving most and wake you during a half hour window of your choosing with gradual increasing sound.

Your other option for a gradual wake alarm clock is my favourite from Philips.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Philips-Wake-Up-HF3500-01-Simulation/dp/B00EO4MDVC

This nifty bit of kit also gradually increases the light in the room which slowly stops production of melatonin and helps wake you out of your slumber like a Disney Princess.

Insulin, Leptin and Ghrelin

Many studies have been conducted on the effects of sleep deprivation and insulin resistance of the body. A sleep reduction from 8 hours down to four hours likens the body’s glucose metabolism to that of a type two diabetic patient. What does this mean for us folks trying to lose weight? Well, it’s not good news.

Leptin is a hormone produced by our body that inhibits appetite and increases energy expenditure. From a body fat loss perspective, we want levels to be perfect.

Ghrelin is a hormone produced in the stomach that increases appetite and reduces energy expenditure. This is exactly what we don’t want a lot of to avoid putting on unecessary weight.

With four hours sleep, Leptin levels decrease 18% and Ghrelin levels increase 28%. You do the math!

As an everyday athlete, you should be shooting for 8 hours of sleep at least, more after particularly stressful training sessions that tested your Central Nervous System to the core.

There are many more factors affecting recovery which we will address at a later date.for now, get your sleep in order and it will amaze you what it can do for your cognitive, mental and physical performance!

Mike Lee
Senior Coach
CrossFit Perpetua
Instagram: MikeleePT
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