Going to CrossFit classes several times a week can certainly start to take a toll on your body, as exercise, although a positive stressor, does cause distress to our muscles, tissues and even our nervous system.

That’s why it’s important for us athletes especially, to get adequate sleep at night, as restful, deep sleep, is a surefire way to help the body recover from the day’s stressors such as intense exercise, work, and anything else we may be juggling on our plate.

How much sleep you need will vary depending on your genetics, age, level of physical/mental strain, but in general, most adults will need anywhere between 7-9 hours of deep sleep in order to recover adequately. Further, if you are training more than the one hour per day, have a very active job or are feeling under the weather, you’re likely looking at closer to 9-10 hours.

Although it might seem like a chore to physically stay in bed for longer than we’d like to on most days, when we have many things we are constantly thinking about or doing in a day’s time, there’s some major payoffs. As an athlete, adequate sleep can:

  • Improve speed, power and intensity
  • Increase mental focus and fortitude; inadequate sleep can cause brain fog
  • Increase coordination; restful sleep helps the brain with learned motor skills and helps solidify them as “muscle memory” movements
  • Supports growth hormone and muscle synthesis… who doesn’t want GAINS?

Having a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep at night? Try these few things to keep you ahead of the game when it comes to hitting the sack:

  • Eat a diet full of whole foods, and eat enough! Under-eating can cause sleep disturbances or trouble falling asleep at night
  • Limit caffeine intake at least 7-8 hours before bed
  • Incorporate meditation in your night-time wind-down routine. Doing simple breathing exercises and slowing your breath and heart rate down can help you relax before it’s time to get some shut eye
  • Power down all electronics 1-2 hours before bedtime. Light from your electronics can prevent you from falling asleep easily and may keep your mind racing when using devices connected to work, school, or social networks into the later hours

Still not convinced of all the benefits? Test it out for two weeks: getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night, and just observe how it makes you think, feel and perform inside and outside of the gym.