October 24th 2015
Kati’s Fit Kit – Sleep Yourself Strong!
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Saturday, October 31st, all classes will be cancelled due to the TSC that many of our members have been training for! The TSC will be held here at the gym, so come on by to cheer the participants on! ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Sleep Yourself Strong!
We all know that lack of sleep can leave you feeling sluggish and dragging through your day, but how does sleep quality affect our fitness results? Obviously if you are tired from lack of sleep, you won’t be able to train to your fullest potential when you hit the gym. In addition, sleep is our body’s time to repair itself, and is also the time that we oxidize fat at a higher percentage than any other time. Not to mention that lack of sleep completely disrupts our hormonal balance, which can negatively impact every aspect of our health and well being, including our ability to build muscle and burn fat. The topic of getting a good night’s sleep has been coming up a lot around Breakthrough lately… And who couldn’t stand to feel more refreshed and energized upon waking?! Because sleep is such an important topic, it’s also a very deep one. In fact, in starting to write this article I realized I was quickly accumulating too many ideas and suggestions, and it was tending towards being overwhelming rather than helpful!
Usually the simple solutions are the best place to start, so rather than giving you a multitude of different ideas to try, here is an easy yoga stretching and breathing practice that should take you about 15 to 20 minutes. You don’t need much space, so you can do this in your bedroom and then just transition into your bed when you are done.
For optimal relaxation, you want to make sure your bedroom is quiet and free from any TVs, smartphones and electronics of any kind. You can have a dim light for your practice, but as you make your way to sleep, the room should be as dark as possible. You also want to avoid having your room too hot or too cold – between 68 and 70 degrees should be about right. As you go through the stretches, just keep checking in to make sure you aren’t holding your breath. If you find you can’t breathe easily, you may want to ease out of the pose a little and not go as deep.
While there are some pranayama techniques that should only be done once you are an advanced practitioner, the following are very safe to practice on your own. But of course if you feel light headed or dizzy, you should stop and return to your normal breathing immediately.
If you found it challenging to breathe deeply during belly breathing, just conclude your practice here by returning to a few normal breaths, slowly opening your eyes, and transitioning to bed. Once belly breathing feels comfortable to you, you can move on to extended exhale breathing.
Extended Exhale – Stay lying on your back as you were with the belly breathing. Continue with the belly breathing and silently begin to count the lengths of your inhales and exhales for a couple of breaths. See if you can smooth out the breath so that you are breathing the same count on the inhale and exhale. Once you have done this for a few breaths, you can begin to extend the exhale to be longer than the inhale, building up to a 1:2 ratio one second at a time. For example, if you were breathing for 3 seconds on your inhale and exhale, you will start with breathing in for 3, and breathing out for 4 seconds. Then see if you can breathe in for 3 and out for 5. Eventually go up to a 3 second inhale, and 6 second exhale (1:2 ratio). Don’t worry if you aren’t able to double your exhale in your first practice. Just keep expanding the exhale a little bit each breath as you feel able, practicing for a total of 10 to 12 breaths.
After extended exhale breathing, return to normal breathing for a few breaths, slowly open your eyes and transition straight into bed.
Consistent practice is key, so if you decide to try this bedtime routine, give it a try for around two weeks to see what you notice. If you do, we’d love to hear how it is working for you, so please let us know!