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4 hacks to a better night’s sleep

Hey there motivated individual! I have a new challenge for you. Guess what? It’s harder than any whole-food-eating, gallon-of-water-drinking, couch-to-5k challenge you’ve ever tried.

Not only that, but if you complete it successfully I promise you’ll never want to stop.

That’s why I’m challenging you to 1 month of restful nights sleep!

So why is that so hard? Because for some reason our culture idolizes the overworked, overtired, puffy eyed stories of grinding day in and day out with insufficient sleep. We seem to overvalue sacrifice and undervalue our bodies. Not only that, but I think we all forget what it feels like to operate as our 100% rested and ready to go selves. I promise that if you invest in your rest you’ll never want to go without it again.

Let’s dig in to some techniques to help us prepare for an awesome night’s sleep.

1.  Optimize Your Environment

Do more of this:

  • Make it dark

Our bodies sleep cycle is regulated by a hormone called Melatonin, produced in the Pineal gland. Melatonin is released as the day grows dark and tells our bodies to begin shutting down. Any exposure of our bodies to light will reduce the release of Melatonin and could potentially disrupt the sleep cycle. Try blackout curtains, removing any sources of light in the bedroom, or even a sleep mask to really turn out the lights!

  • Turn down the thermostat

As drowsy as it makes us to sit by the fire, it actually isn’t ideal to be in a hot environment for a good night’s rest. According to Dr. Peter Attia, “the lowering of our body temperature at night is a cue for our brains that it’s time to go to sleep and increases the proportion of time we’re in delta-wave (translation: deep) sleep.” So what’s the ideal temperature? Most studies show that 68 degrees Fahrenheit is optimal for sleep.

Don’t do that!:

  • Checking email before bed

Technology and sleep appear to be mortal enemies. A very “neither can live while the other survives,” Harry Potter/Lord Voldemort type of scenario. Staring at a screen make our bodies think we still need to be alert, active, and ready for action. AKA not drowsy, calm, or relaxed. Best practice: No screens in the bedroom. Turn off phones, computers, and television 30-60 minutes before bedtime to let your body know it’s time to shut down.

  1. Smart Consumption

Do more of this:

  • Eat protein before bed.

To ensure a restful night of sleep it is important to be aware of how we’re fueling our bodies throughout the day.Some studies have shown that eating a high protein snack before bed resulted in significantly fewer wake episodes compared to carbohydrate based snacks or a placebo. Try a protein shake, a late night omelette, or some greek yogurt and peanut butter to fuel your slumber.

Don’t do that!:

  • Drink coffee after 12pm.

Caffeine can have seriously disrupting effects on your sleep.Try to avoid alcohol, tea, and any beverages that alter your state, dehydrate, or have you running to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

  1. Develop a Routine

Do more of this:

  • Set a bedtime alarm.

We are creatures of habit and our routines have a profound effect on how our bodies behave. By scheduling out a bedtime routine each night our bodies will be primed for a great night of sleep. Try setting a bedtime alarm 8 or 9 hours before you wish to wake up. This is the cue to start your bedtime routine. Put your cellphone away, take care of your bathroom business, and settle down in bed with a fictional book or a journal to reflect on your day.

Pro tip: If you have pet get them in a routine that helps you stay on track!

Don’t do that!:

  • Wait until you’re tired.

Consistency is king when it comes to a good night’s sleep. If you want to wake up rested you have to exercise the discipline to shut down at a reasonable hour each night. Whether it’s turning off the TV or signing out of work emails, it has to be an active choice. If you continue to stimulate your mind, it won’t be able to recognize that it has to shut down for the night.

  1. Use your physiology to unwind

Do more of this:

  • Stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system

Our bodies respond to the environment and are always in one of two modes.

  1. Sympathetic aka “Fight or Flight”
  2. Parasympathetic aka “Rest and Digest”

We can hack our parasympathetic nervous system to initiate the healing benefits of our rest and digest state. Try taking a hot bath before bed, gently massaging or foam rolling your muscles, or practicing long slow deep breathing.

Don’t do that!

  • Strenuous Exercise

Exercise is incredible and will often help promote a deeper sleep. However don’t try to squeeze your workout in too close to bedtime. Training will ramp up your bodies Fight or Flight response and it may take some time to wind down after the fact. Try to wrap up your workout 2 hours before bed and you’ll be sleeping like a baby in no time.

Member Spotlight: Celeste Forman

Each month, we will profile a Grand Trunk CrossFit member who has seen incredible results since joining our “box”.

It is our hope, that by showing you what can be accomplished through regular workouts and a commitment to fitness, you will be encouraged to take the leap and come in for a workout.

This month’s spotlight is on Celeste Forman, a member since 2017.

When did you join Grand Trunk, and why?

Celeste: I joined in August of 2017 after months of stalking the website. My friend does CrossFit in Port Austin and she suggested it for the accountability.

What do you enjoy most about GTCF and CrossFit?

I get motivated watching what everyone else can do. It’s nice to have that push.

What is your favorite movement?

Any type of squat.

What is a CrossFit goal you have achieved that you are most proud of?

Well, rowing 1,600 meters without dying, I guess.

What is a current goal you are working on and hope to accomplish?

I’m so far from this goal but toes-to-bar. I think that’s the coolest move and I wanna do it!

What advice would you give a new member or someone who is thinking about trying CrossFit?

Just do it! And don’t quit any workout because you’ll just be quitting yourself.

How has CrossFit impacted your life outside of the gym?

First, it’s made my son want to be active and exercise, which I love. And it kind of gives you a confidence boost. When you tell people you work out at CrossFit, they think you are insane and a badass, which is so fun.

What is a fun fact that people might not know about you?

Instead of going to college right after high school, I traveled. I moved to Maryland to be a live-in nanny. Then went to Mexico to build houses and to Guatemala to help get school supplies to the village kids that lived in the mountains. The kids sat on dirt floors and used rocks to do their schoolwork, so we brought them tables and chairs along with other school supplies. It was the most amazing experience one day (hopefully soon) I want to take my son there.

If you could create your own WOD, what would it be?

I feel highly unqualified to answer this question, so I’ll just say something with squats, ring rows, and toes-to-bar.

Fill in the blank: I CrossFIt (because/so I can): Relieve stress, be healthy, lose weight, and be an example to my son.

Interested in trying out CrossFit? Schedule a free, no-sweat intro today!

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