In today’s world, we are inundated with new “recovery” tools. Foam rollers, TENS units of every variety, proprietary compression socks, and every salve an ointment imaginable. While everything mentioned can help aid recovery, there is only one that any of us should focus on to get the greatest results…. Sleep.
In a world of the 4-hour sleep night for the successful CEO, it may add some dollars to a grinding pocket now, but it’s taking years off of your life later, and limiting your body’s ability to reach its true potential. The body needs sleep, not just a little, a lot. Quite frankly, if we could get every patient to sleep more than 8 hours a night, every single aspect of their life would improve. Why does our body need so much time in a sleeping state? Well, it’s quite complex, but to put it simply, your body sleeps in stages, it needs each stage to perform vital functions, and it repeats these stages a few times a night. By limiting your sleep, you are depriving your body of its evolutionary balancing act. So, for the rest of this post, let’s treat our body as a bank account.
You wake up in the morning, you go through your morning routine which consists of work emails first. This will cause your bodies stress response to raise. We just removed 20 from your bank account. You follow the work emails by drinking too much coffee as a stress response, which in fact, doubles the stress response. Take another 40 out of that account. You drive to your office while in terrible traffic, tripling the stress you felt for the first 30 minutes of the day, let’s call it good at another 100out of the account. Now you have at least an 8-hour workday, one completely inundated with stressful client issues. By the end of the workday, you’ve increased that account draw to a solid 1500 bucks. You get home and dinner isn’t ready because you didn’t have enough time, or maybe your wife was completely slammed with kid duty. Little Caesars is now on the table. You hate it, so now you are at the crossroads of life, eat it while incredibly mad about it, or fight it out with your wife because “she should know”. Both are stress responses. Either way, you’ve drawn from your account again, arguing with your wife with be a much larger draw, but let’s not argue semantics. If you are lucky, you get your nightly workout it, and big surprise, workouts over an hour have an adverse cortisol response. Not only has your stress hormone increased, but you’ve also caused tissue damage throughout your body, due to the stressors of the day. This hasn’t even gotten into the dramatic effects a bad diet will have on your body. So, let’s call it at a couple grand of debits from your body’s bank account today.
So how do we put money back in, food is an obvious form of currency, but in reality, the bank teller, the computer systems management electronic money, the smart financial advisors deciding what to do with that money to get a benefit from it, they only work in your body during sleep. They need an 8 hour shift too. They don’t all work simultaneously either, so if you cut it short, or you are interrupted often, an employee or two isn’t doing their job, thereby limiting the amount of money you put back in that body bank.
Sounds like a terrible money management idea, right? Then why is it so easy for humans to skip on sleep? What happens in sleep? Good hormones increase, bad hormones decrease, and this balance is needed for repair function. Bodily organs are repaired, let me say that again, your organs, necessary for life, are repaired in your sleep. Not in front of your computer screen. Your long-term memories are generally filed away in sleep. This is as general as we can get, this is your body’s soft reset button, followed by update installs before you wake up. So, when you cut the sleep down, your body might slightly reset, but now updates will not be installed. If you wake up 15+ times a.night, you never hit the level of sleep needed to rebalance your good and bad hormones. Your workout is then pointless, because that trauma will never heal affectively. You start the next day with stress that never went away, and guess what you do the next day? You add more stress.
Sleep is king, it always will be king. If you prioritize sleep, every single facet of your life will improve. You will function better as a professional, you will repair better as an athlete, you will feel less stressed, you will remember what happened to you a week ago, you will perform better in the bedroom, and you just might actually recover.