October is the time of year, when the clocks change and the amount of available light is reduced. This can have an impact on training schedules, with routes and routines being tweaked to take advantage of lighting. While these changes are taken in their stride by experienced fitness folk, one element that can be harder to amend, is your sleep cycle.
Sleep is an integral part of everyday health, but it is an essential part of a competent fitness strategy. Sleep allows the body to rest from the exercises performed and utilise the ingested nutrients to repair the muscles. It is of such importance that the team over at Sealy Beds have created the Sealy World of Sport Initiative, in which they are working with some of the leading names in British Sport (including Boxer David Hay, Ironman Andy Holgate and championship snowboarder Zoe Gillings-Brier) to promote the benefits of sleep.
There is current research that suggests that just one hour extra sleep can dramatically improve athletic capability. So it is sensible to deduce, that sacrificing even an hour of sleep will affect your fitness levels. So it is an important step to incorporate sleep into a well-rounded fitness programme, whatever the season. In terms of enabling your body to get the sleep it needs, experts recommend setting (and sticking to) a routine. The process of sleep happens in a series of stages and follows a fairly rigid timeline each night, using theses rhythms to your advantage can mean that you wake up feeling refreshed and ready to hit the gym.
Ensuring that your bedroom is inducive to getting a good night’s sleep is another important step. Investing in a quality mattress is a great way to ensure that your body is supported properly. This is of particular importance for those practicing sports, who tend to be more prone to joint and muscle injuries. Zoe Gillings-Brier has suffered various back injuries through her sporting endeavours. She explains that a good night’s sleep is “vital” to her Olympic training programme and a supportive bed and mattress help promote this and aid improvements in her injury recovery.
Another step is creating the right atmosphere for sleep, this can be achieved by lowering the temperature, limiting noise and installing light reducing curtains or blinds. One sleep tip that is coming up with increasing frequency is good sleep hygiene part of which involves leaving electronic gadgets out of the bedroom. Items such as mobiles and tablets generate a glow from the screen, which can interfere with the natural patterns of sleep.