Thanks to my graveyard shift side job, I involuntarily turned myself into an informal sleep study guinea pig this past month.
Sleep deprivation and burpees…not a great combo.
Over the last several weeks, I’ve averaged 4.5 hours of sleep per day, including weekends. Although I felt exhausted, I somehow convinced myself that I could get by on this amount of sleep, because it seemed I had no other option aside from shirking my responsibilities to either CrossFit Kindred or my side job.
It all came to a head 2 weeks ago, when all the sleep deprivation caught up to me and I slept through 2 alarms running continuously for 4 hours (I’m sure my neighbors LOVED me). Thankfully, Cindy was able to cover my classes–and just as importantly, I got 8.5 hours of unbroken sleep for the first time in weeks.
Boy, did I feel a difference! I realized I’d been fooling myself to think I, or ANYONE, could function optimally on less than 7 or 8 hours of sleep.
And I’m talking about 7 to 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. I’ve tried playing the sleep-4-hours-here, run-some-errands, sleep-4-hours-there game. The verdict? It just doesn’t work. The brain and body need time to slip into deep sleep–where the magic happens. Especially if you do CrossFit like me.
Don’t be in denial like I was. Educate yourself by reading this NY Times article. As extreme as my example is, most of us cheat ourselves out of sleep in some way or another these days. My experience fits the article’s description to a tee, from the weight gain and increased appetite, to the lack of focus and mood swings (just ask Cindy about it! lol).
So, if you’ve been eating well and training hard, and you still find your performance and/or weight-loss goals plateauing or even declining, maybe it’s time to check in on your sleep habits. Are you consistently getting 7-8 hours of quality, unbroken sleep?
Thankfully, I’m taking my situation into my own hands. I managed to get my side job transferred to the swing shift starting this Monday, while still getting to coach some of my favorite weekday classes at Kindred.
And yesterday, Cindy and I began a 90-day personal experiment using the new Primal Blueprint 90-Day Journal we have in stock at the Kindred Store. The book is guiding us each through some “n=1 experiments” to change, test, and improve our diet, exercise, and sleep habits using Primal principles. (Read Mark Sisson’s description of the journal here).
We’ll post an update on how it went in a few months! In the meantime, if anyone wants to join us, let us know.
Now it’s your turn. Share in the comments below: What sleep habit could you break today that would have the most positive impact on your performance and your quality of life?