Monday, March 17, 2014

Down on sleep? Kill the alarm, when you can

Back in the pre-CrossFit days, my wife and I used to go to the gym every morning. Up by 5 or 5:30, and out the door by 6 or so. When CrossFit started, we scaled back the number of days that we worked out, but we still usually went first thing in the morning.

And that meant setting an alarm. Alarms are cool if you have the personal discipline to go to bed by a (pretty early) certain time every night, but it seems that life often intrudes on any semblance of a "regular" bedtime. And when that bedtime creeps later, the next morning's alarm transforms from a gentle taskmaster to a drill sergeant.

So, lately, we have started with a new approach when we can: no alarm. Under the theory that if we aren't well-rested enough to wake up on our own, maybe we should be rethinking that early-a.m. workout schedule, we began sleeping in just a little. A little, mind you... not a lot. We have jobs. More importantly, we have dogs, who would wake us up to eat, eventually ("eventually"= by about 7 o'clock). But, let me assure you that there is an enormous difference between waking up at 5 a.m. and getting up at 7. There is also a big difference between the jolt of an alarm clock and waking up when your body actually feels like it. And if we want to go to the gym, there are still late-afternoon/early-evening CrossFit classes that we can get to. Or not. And we are good with that.

There is some truth to the notion that unless you are actually getting up at sunrise and going to bed around sunset, you are a sleep "hacker" to at least a degree. But let's face it, that means that we are *all* sleep hackers. So does that mean we should just throw in the towel and wing it when it comes to getting a good night's rest? No. You can still carve out a decent portion of your night for some quality shut-eye.

There's, first and foremost, shutting down your electronics earlier than you do now (says the guy typing at night, on an iPad), and then there's getting to bed earlier. But don't forget the "sleeping in a little" trick. Unless you have taken The Big Leap and decided that you are training for CrossFit as a "sport," rather than as a health/longevity aid, you are probably better off getting quality sleep and foregoing a few trips to the gym each week than you are beating the bejeezus out of yourself by dragging yourself to CrossFit on five hours' sleep.

And I know... This is "sleep in a little" advice from someone who doesn't have young kids or other reasons to be awake at a very early hour no matter what every morning. So if this tip doesn't work for you, then so be it. But maybe, just maybe, you are a (young-)childless workaholic who needs to examine just why the hell you are dragging yourself out of bed to beat yourself into a cortisol-filled coma some mornings. Believe me.... *that's* not doing you any favors.

And yeah, it's taken me a while to catch on to this little fact myself. I will be at p.m. CrossFit even a little more than usual....

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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