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  • Writer's pictureZach Taillie

The One Secret to Running Faster, Squatting More and Improving Overall Health

What if I told you I could optimize your workouts, help you think more clearly, and lose weight with little to no effort? Would you be interested? Of course! The secret to all these things and more is sleep!

1 in 3 adults in America do not get adequate sleep on a nightly basis. The CDC recommends at least 7 hours a night with a target goal of 8 hours a night. Those numbers get even worse when we look at teenagers. Due to the additional needs of growth teenagers need between 9-9.5 hours of sleep. Unfortunately most teens get about 7 hours a night. So how do you optimize things to get better sleep?

Put your phone down

Your circadian rhythm is the natural rhythm that controls your sleep cycles. When you lay in bed and look at your phone it delays the release of melatonin. This key hormone is what tells your body it's time to wind down and get some shut eye. The problem with phones is that your body doesn't recognize the difference between your phone screen and natural light from the sun. Thinking the sun may be shining confuses our hormones and this leads to things getting out of sync. This leads to difficulty going to sleep and trouble staying awake. Picking up your phone in the middle of the night also has very detrimental effects as the light tells your body that night is over and that it's time to wake up. It can make it very difficult to fall back asleep or to get back into the proper part of your sleep rhythm. To avoid the negative effects of blue light I would suggest avoiding screen time in the 2 hours leading up to bed. Try reading a book, doing a puzzle, some light exercise, or some quality family time.

Get a schedule

Having a regular schedule can be very useful to your sleep! The time you go to sleep and wake up should be as regular as possible to promote healthy sleep. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine describes the negative effects of an irregular sleep schedule as:

"People with disrupted circadian rhythms often experience daytime sleepiness and difficulty sleeping. The body’s inability to synchronize the sleep-wake cycle to their environment can cause sleep deprivation, depression, impaired work performance, increased risk of falls and accidents, reduced alertness, impaired memory, and increases the risk of other health conditions."

So how does this effect athletes?

While a hard training session feels like when the hard work happens, the recovery is actually where the magic happens. Recovery only happens during quality sleep and if it is missed you are at a high risk for injury.

  • A study conducted at Stanford tracked the performance of athletes who volunteered to extend sleep time to 10 hours a day. These athletes saw faster half court and full court sprint times. They also noted a 9% improvement in shooting compared to the players who did not extend sleep times

  • Another study following swimmers who extended sleep showed a significant improvement in reaction times compared to swimmers who only got 7 hours of sleep

  • A study following middle and high schoolers showed the chronic under sleeping led to a large increase in injury risk.

Hopefully this article will help you get on board with getting more sleep!! If you have any questions feel free to reach out!

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