I am often asked what the most important thing any athlete or person can do is? My answer always seems to shock people. The answer is....... SLEEP.
No this does not mean I want you to sleep all day long. Lets take a minute to use science to help us approach sleep with strategies so we can get the most out of it.
My wife will be the first to tell you that I myself require very little sleep, but fact is I run very well on 7 hours of sleep. When I get 8 plus hours of sleep a night I feel tired and groggy. I also like to go to bed between 10pm and 11pm but I like to wake up between 6:30am and 8am.
What research shows us is some people are Larks those who prefer to go to bed before 10pm and prefer to wake up before 7am. We then have Owls who (please make an owl noise when you say that who) prefer to go to bed after midnight and wake up after 9am. An lastly we have Robins who go to bed between 10-12pm and wake up around 7-8am.
I personally am I Robin and my schedule is a little off with my sleep Monday/Wednesday/Friday due to waking up at 4:30am to coach the 6am Fit 4 Life. On these days my goal is to go to bed around 9:30pm to get 7 hours of sleep. Now due to work or a game being on I might stay up later which would result in getting under my 7 hours a night requirement.
Think of sleep and the amount of gas in your gas tank. If you are low and miss a few hours due to an event or not being able to fall asleep. Then your body has less gas (sleep) to run on. What you must do is plan to make it up when you know you will be able to. This will allow you can refill your sleep tank and have more energy.
Taking this sleep tank idea, if I get less than 7 hours of sleep on Monday, Wednesday, or Friday then I know I should try to fill the tank up on Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday. I hope this makes sense and is a strategy you can use to help yourself keep a full sleep tank.
By: Kevin Hollabaugh, MHA, CSCS, USAW, FMSC, CSAC