The grueling training we put our bodies through for marathons, triathlons or challenge courses cannot be complete without one major component: sleep. While exercise focuses on active physical tasks, proper recovery is highly dependent on getting appropriate rest. Whether you’re a professional athlete, a weekend warrior or just getting started with a routine, these sleep tips will help you achieve the fitness results you seek.
The stages of sleep
There are four stages experienced during a night of sleep. They all contribute to overall rest, and how you wake up the next day. If one of the stages is interrupted, there’s greater chance that not only will you get less sleep, but your sleep will lack the quality your body needs.
Stage 1 – This stage involves light sleep. It occurs at the very beginning of the night when you’re just drifting in and out. You most likely can still hear your TV and noises around you, and you’re very easily awakened.
Stage 2 – The second stage is known as the general onset of sleep. At this point, your muscles are starting to relax, your heart rate slows to a resting beat and your breathing rate slows down. It’s common for your body temperature to start dropping as well, allowing you to drift off into a deeper state of sleep.
Stage 3 – Restorative sleep starts at the third stage. Your blood pressure slowly decreases (from your heart rate slowing), but blood flow to the muscles widens and increases as your circulatory system enters the repair and recovery stage. You may have heard that sleep is the time in which we grow and recover—this happens in this stage! Your body releases growth hormones and repairs muscles, bones and internal systems that may be damaged or injured.
Stage 4 – The last and final stage of sleep is REM sleep. This is the optimal time for your body to recover as your nervous system gets to recharge while you’re in the deepest stage of the sleep cycle. New memories and information also get processed and stored during this stage, and energy is replenished.
Waking up in the middle of the night usually resets this whole cycle which also makes it very difficult to reach REM sleep every night for many adults. Common factors such as room temperature, noises around you and even your overall comfort in bed can impact you reaching the final stage of sleep.
Tips to achieve better sleep
To best support your body’s natural recovery process, incorporate these sleep techniques into your daily slumber routine:
1. Get the right amount of Zzzzs
The full time for a sleep cycle for many adults is 8 to 10 hours, which is also the recommended duration nightly.
2. Chill out
Sixty five degrees is the recommended temperature to ensure deep sleep. Temperature is affected by your circadian rhythm—when night begins, your body temperature falls. If your bedroom is too warm and you can't lose body heat, you will not be able to sleep well.
3. Block out sounds
The brain still registers and processes sounds when you’re sleeping, so any abrupt or loud noises can cause you to wake up, move and experience a change in heart rate or blood pressure that you may not even be aware of in the morning.
4. Keep it cozy
Being comfortable while you’re sleeping is one of the most important ways to get a great night of rest. This is why making sure you have supportive bedding ensures that you fall asleep and stay asleep through the night. A mattress made from latex foam is not only the ultimate in comfort, but it also helps to make sure you stay cool.
While sleeping preferences change from person to person, it’s important to find what works for you to wake up and perform your best. Whether your day is spent in the office, or on the courts, starting your day refreshed with your mind clear and body recovered will set the tone for a winning day!
Tips courtesy of Casper, a sleep startup company that launched in 2014 with one perfect mattress sold directly to consumers — eliminating commission driven, inflated prices. The award-winning sleep surface has a sleek design and is delivered in a small, “how did they do that?” sized box. It unites proprietary CertiPUR certified memory and latex foams, sleeps cool and promotes ideal anatomic support. They're proudly manufactured and hand stitched in America.