Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Sleep Is To Recovery As Water Is To Hydration

"Convicted pedaler rides again!"

Prior to CrossFit I was a psychopath cardio-maniac junkie. I was constantly outside on Lakeshore - a main street we have here in Mississauga by the lake where there are shoppes, bars and restaurants and other small establishments - pedaling away on my bike, wheeling around on my blades, and hitting the pavement with two feet and a heartbeat. Everyone on the streets knew who I was, day and night - even the cops. I was a bonified fitness junkie! The only way to get my fix was...more pedaling.

Even though I was exposing myself to gratuitous amounts of exercise, I struggled a lot with sleeping, and I tried remedying myself numerous times by waking up extremely early, working out very early (running, biking, rollerblading), removing all sugars from my diet, and eliminating all caffeine products. None of it seemed to work; instead, I was becoming more and more awake, and I would even go out as late as midnight for a cycle because I was that restless. That quickly stopped after a very traumatic experience! Word of advice: do not go cycling at strange hours unless you want to encounter strange people!

Since December 2007 my sleeping habits have changed substantially because of CrossFit, but I do still struggle with it a bit here and there, and not because I'm not tired - believe me, I am - I'm just such a computer geek! Is it possible to be too lazy to fall asleep? In my world, yes.

I'm sure a lot of people are in the same boat on this subject of sleep. We just simply don't get enough. And I'm sure that a lot of people, including myself, believe they don't require as much sleep as the average person is required to have. But I think I am going to call myself out on this one and say I am wrong.

On average, I sleep about 5 hours a night. This past summer, I managed to sleep about 8 hours a night (not sure how/why); this winter that number got cut by almost half (also not sure how/why). All I know is that I'm not getting the necessary amount of sleep to recover from my workouts, which is absolutely paramount when training at such high intensities as we do in CrossFit.

The stress of not being able to fall asleep has a large effect on the ability to actually do so, and the stress of waking up in the morning after not having a good night's sleep is carried over into the next day and evening, which can sometimes be the start of a vicious cycle; simply laying down and attempting to go to bed can cause you to focus too much on the task at hand, which can cause added stress, frustration, and even anxiety.

A great way to remedy this is to provide yourself with a distraction. Read a book, watch a movie or put your tv on sleep, or try and stick to the basics: music! Classical, R&B, Death Metal, whatever suits your fancy. Counting sheep is also pretty effective if you don't like any of the alternatives I've listed so far; and don't limit yourself to only counting sheep, there are lots of other things you can count: kettlebells, C2 rowers, bumper plates, the list goes on!

Starting this week I'm going to try shutting everything off (tv and computer), put on my iPod and see where that gets me. I think it'll allow for my mind to become completely relaxed and be at ease, which is what anyone wants right before falling asleep. I will know that I was successful if I wake up in the morning feeling like I want to rip the hell out of some heavy cleans.

If you're having trouble sleeping, try changing up your routine before going to bed, and see if it has a positive or negative effect. It doesn't hurt to try!


  1. Hey Mel,
    You ever try Meditation or *cough* Yoga.
    I found it helped me drastically as it totally chills.
    If that doesnt work, try having a baby!
    I guarantee that'll knock you out :)

  2. Ha! Not sure if I'll be trying option two out for a while; however, option one I will look into! :)