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CrossFit and Sleep

Posted by Zach Brown on

Aside from getting enough sleep to rest up for your next CrossFit workout, how much sleep do you really need? Ask 5 different people this question, and you will likely get 5 different answers!

Some people stick to the standard “8 hours of sleep per night” as their answer. Some people say that the “8 hours” rule only applies to children and teenagers – they say that adults are fine with less than 8 hours of sleep per night. Parents or those who work several jobs may tell you that getting 8 hours of sleep is impossible, regardless of whether you “need” it or not! And some people will say that however much sleep men need, women need even more.

(This last idea has been proven to be true, by the way – “Women need more sleep than men, according to a recent study. Researchers from Duke University have discovered that, compared to men, women experience more mental and physical consequences from inadequate rest. Besides giving half the population a legitimate reason to sleep in, the findings could also inspire new health recommendations for women at greater risk of heart disease, depression, and psychological problems" -  "Why Women Need More Sleep Than Men," Medical Daily).

Some people even say that you can tell how much sleep you need based on the amount of coffee you drink each day. Many CrossFit athletes love their coffee, but experts say, “If you are pouring on the caffeine to stay awake, you are probably not getting enough sleep.” Or, here is another method that you can use to discover how much sleep you need:

“If you need an alarm clock to wake, try going to sleep 15 minutes earlier. Do you still need an alarm clock? If you do, push your bedtime up another 15 minutes, he says. Do this until you no longer need an alarm to wake up. This exercise should give you a pretty good idea about the amount of sleep you need per night" ("How Much Sleep Do You Really Need?", WebMd)

Looking back at all of these ideas, it may seem that getting 8 hours of sleep per night might be sufficient for you. However, “the amount of sleep a person needs depends on many factors, including age.” There is not necessarily a one-size-fits all answer when it comes to sleep. But WebMD recommends the following amount of sleep for each group:

  • “Infants require about 16 hours a day.
  • Teenagers need about 9 hours on average.
  • Most adults need 7 to 8 hours a night for the best amount of sleep, although some people may need as few as 5 hours or as many as 10 hours of sleep each day.
  • Women in the first 3 months of pregnancy often need several more hours of sleep than usual.
  • However, experts say that if you feel drowsy during the day, even during boring activities, you haven't had enough sleep"

("Are You Getting Enough Sleep?", WebMD).

Regardless of which number you feel is best for you, it is important to get adequate sleep! As a CrossFit athlete, you want to make it a priority to get enough sleep.   Here is a bit of information about why sleep is important for any type of workout, CrossFit or not:

“[A lack of sleep] can seriously hinder your weight-loss, as sleep triggers a number of hormones that influence cravings and a tendency for weight gain. In addition, too many sleepless nights will leave you tired and unfocused for your workouts, which means that you won't get much from your efforts. And did you know that sleep is a much needed part of a fitness plan, since a lot of recovery and repair happens while you rest each night? Skimp on the shut-eye, and it could also lead to symptoms of overtraining" ( "8 Reasons Why Your Workout Isn't Working," Spark People).

In addition to messing with your workout, a lack of sleep can cause plenty of health problems:

  • “Memory problems
  • Depression
  • A weakening of your immune system, increasing your chance of becoming sick
  • Increase in perception of pain”

("Are You Getting Enough Sleep?", WebMD).

…and these are just some of the milder side effects of too little sleep! So, for the sake of your WOD and for your health in general, we think it is important for you to:

  • find how much sleep you as an individual need,and
  • make that number a priority!

We'll see you next time here on the BoxStalker blog!

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