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Optimizing Sleep to Improve Performance

We are thrilled to introduce one of our newest contributors to the Cybex blog, Will Stern. Will is currently an Instructor in the Health and Human Performance Department at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Previously, he was a professor of Health and Physical Education at Covenant College on Lookout Mountain, Georgia for 14 years. Will was one of the first 126 people in the world to earn the National Strength and Conditioning Association's Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist certification, and is one of only 22 who have been able to maintain that certification. He is also one of only 300 out of 13,000 eligible certified people in the world to have earned the CSCS with Distinction. In his first blog, Will discusses the impact of sleep on performance.

Source: Flickr (Left, Center, Right)

Are Your Sleep Habits to Blame for Your Performance?

Have your workouts stopped getting results? Do you feel stressed out? Are you not eating as healthy? Has this been happening a lot lately? You may have a sleep problem. The average adult needs seven to nine hours of sleep a night to function properly.

Sleep, stress, eating and exercise must all be balanced if you are going to be the most productive in your life. However, sleep directly affects each of these factors. So getting quality, restful sleep will help you be the best you can be.

In a perfect world you would go to sleep at the same time and get up at the same time every day. This is hard to do with our everyday schedules. The key factor is to get up at the same time every day. If you need to get some extra rest, do not sleep in longer than one to one and a half hours, or you risk resetting your internal clock. This is why when you sleep in on the weekends, Monday’s feel so sluggish. Your internal clock thinks it has just flown in from California, so you have a “Blue Monday.”

5 Tips to Help You Sleep Better

1. Wake up at the same time each morning.
This will help you to be more productive. Do not hit the snooze button. You become more tired every time you hit it. You should be able to wake up right before your alarm goes off. If the alarm clock is needed to wake up, you are not getting quality, restful sleep.

2. Use your bed only for sleep.
No eating, reading, studying or using electronic devices in bed. Make your room all about sleep. Remove the television, telephone and any other devices from the bedroom. This reinforces the idea that this room is meant for sleeping. An ideal environment is quiet, dark and relatively cool, with a comfortable bed and minimal clutter.

3. Cut down on caffeine.
If you want to sleep well, no caffeine after 3 o’clock.

4. If you're not sleepy, pick up a book.
If you're still awake after about 20 minutes in bed, get up and read to relax. Otherwise, you'll set yourself up for tossing and turning. Do not just lie in bed for several hours trying to fall sleep.

5. Create a bedtime ritual.
Your parents had a nighttime routine for you as a small child to get ready to go to sleep. Why do you not have a routine today? It takes a few minutes to wind down. If your mind races in bed, make sure you make a list of what you need to do the next day as part of your ritual.

Sleep is tied to every important aspect of your life. If you improve your sleep, you will be able to work out more efficiently, handle stress with more ease and not be tempted to eat poorly.

Once Your Sleep Is Optimized, Start Working Towards Your Fitness Goals
Drop calories. Burn fat. Gain muscle. Regardless of your fitness goals or experience level, the Cybex Workout Center provides free programs to help sculpt your core and tone your upper and lower body through an array of cardio and power workouts.

Get to the Gym with These Workouts