Sleep: The "Magical" 8, Quality or Quantity

Quality of Sleep vs Quantity

We all know how important sleep is, until we have to……. go to sleep. We all take our ability to sleep for granite, and we act as if we are able to '“make up” sleep with a nap during the day or going to bed earlier the next night. The truth is once you have lost that time to sleep, it’s like the seconds, minutes , hours, that you were suppose to use for that sleep they….. are both GONE forever never to be regained. The topic of sleep comes up in conversations with ALL of my clients, usually when their body composition results are less than desirable (loss of lean muscle and an increase of body fat) or a drop in performance during the session. This issue affects everyone, from the youth athlete who goes on an 8-10 hour video game bender every weekend, to the CEO who has a poor habit of taking their work to bed with them, to the airline employee who has a crazy work schedule and they have several legs (trips) to work in a 24 hour period. Even yours truly (Coach E. Allen) I take sleeping peacefully and getting aquality nights sleep for granite also. I will stay up writing programs or blogging, planning my day the night before or watching Youtube videos. The issue usually is not the lack of sleep, but its lack of good habits that prepare us to get a quality nights sleep. Let me explain, even if you go to bed at a decent time, your habits and your behaviors take over and you don’t prepare to sleep you just to go to bed in a restless state. Which may consist of looking at the latest animal video on facebook or looking at and commenting on your best friends pictures from their vacation, and a number of other distractions that cause you to lose time and be in this restless state. I am guilty of this my issue is motivational videos on Youtube and maybe a one or two of Tony Bakers animal videos, CRAM! (hit the link to check it out - during the day).

Looking for the CRAM! GO TO SLEEP

Looking for the CRAM! GO TO SLEEP

The issue usually is not the amount of sleep as measured in time, but the quality of sleep that you have. This goes back to your habits and rituals that your have learned over your lifetime. Like most people, there are usually is no preparation for a quality nights sleep, and if you are over the age of 10 years old you have not had a ritual for bedtime that has worked to help you sleep in over 20-30 plus years, but even with that said we still fought the idea of going to sleep “early” before 9 pm. I remember when I was around 8-9 years old and it was the beginning of the school year and the time had not changed and it was still light at my bedtime( 6pm) and I literally had a temper tantrum in the bed kicking and crying because I could hear the other neighborhood kids playing outside and here I was being put to bed like a baby. So fast forward 30+ year and I am still in that habit where I find somes sort of distraction to keep me up sometimes due to subconscious disdain for sleep, because I think that am missing something pressing or fun, instead of preparing to get a quality nights sleep when the day is over by preparing to sleep.

I am a former athlete or Master Athlete, (or what I like to refer to myself as an Athlete Reborn) I know how poor sleeping habits can affect athletic performance. While you are sleeping your body is in repair and regenerate mode, and in order for these process to work correctly you need to allow the body to slow down other process. Everything from healing the bumps scraps, and bruises from the day, to regenerating the brain and improving the new connections that you have created learning new tasks and developing new habits, like preparing to sleep and not just going to bed to lay down. We a going to talk about the habits that can help you get the quality sleep that your body needs to perform at a high level.

Change your habits - Improve your results

Change your habits - Improve your results

Our habits during the day that we need to insure that we get quality sleep are also important. If you haven’t heard exercise has been linked to improving the quality of your sleep. How specifically you might be asking; according the the Sleep Help Institute out of Seattle Washington - “ regular physical activity can reduce depression and anxiety, both of which can hinder sleep. Studies indicate that exercise can make it easier to fall asleep while also boosting sleep quantity and quality. These positive effects of exercise on sleep may be even greater for people with insomnia or other sleep disturbances.” According to the institute the benefits of exercise on sleep are:

  • Improve Sleep Quality and Quantity

  • Helps Fall Asleep Faster

  • Can Help With Sleep Disorders

Another habit that can have a major effect on your sleeping habits is your nutrition. We all know that old phase don’t eat anything spicy before bed, and that’s about all that most individuals know how to apply their nutrition in regards to their sleeping habits. But it goes a bit deeper than that, this is also information provides by the Sleep Help Institute. According to the institute there is a link between poor nutrition and insomnia, and most of you know that there is a link between lack of sleep and obesity/ fat gain (not weight gain). In there article that go into detail how specific diets (or as I like to refer to them nutrition plans) effect on sleep habits and the quality of that sleep. Check it out! it’s very informative and interesting especially if you are looking to try Keto, Vegan , Vegetarian, or Pescatarian, etc. Here is the link - Diet & Sleep .

If you haven’t noticed I never once mentioned a set time perfect time you should designate for sleep, like the magical 8 hours that is suggested most healthcare professionals. I am not a”healthcare professional” but in my opinion there is no magical 8 hours of sleep that you need to achieve that high level of performance that you are looking for; the main objective is the amount quality of you sleep where you are in REM sleep and you wake up feeling rested and ready for the day. This goes back to reshaping your habits (myself included) and rituals hours before bed. Here are my top 5 thing you should do to help adjust your habits before bed to improve your quality of sleep. Also check out the video below for some great information and tips to help you develop some great habits to help you improve the quality of your sleep.

  1. Remove all electronics from the bedroom this includes but is not limited to: cell phones, Tablets, televisions. anything that would distract, stimulate your brain, light up during the night, ring, ding, or sing. (unless it’s your significant other)

  2. Meditate - it helps clear your head or even re-aligns your thoughts and clams the mind

  3. Sleep at a comfortable temperature

  4. Sleep in a room that is completely dark or comfortably dark so as to not disturb you and prevent you from going into deep REM sleep.

  5. Try to control your breathing cadence but taking 10 deep breaths - Inhale and fill every part of your lungs, fill every corner with air. Then exhale expelling every bit of air from your lungs. Do this at a slow tempo; try not to make loud breathing noises. As you breathe relax every part of your body from your forehead to you toes and everything in between.

    Your Quality of sleep matters more than the quantity of your sleep; your habits will dictate the quality your time management will dictate the quantity. Try and find a balance for between your habits and time.

    Thanks you to Stephanie Linder of Community Outreach for the information and for inspiring this blog post!

    Coach E. Allen


    Atlas Pro Training LLC Orlando FL