November is one of my favorite times of the year. Thanksgiving, conference football play, and we get an extra hour when daylight savings time rolls back.
Daylight savings is one of the strangest things to me. It's one of the few things left from an old world; an antiquated practice that doesn't have much use now. We just do it because that's the way it's always been. I did a bit of research before writing this and found a few fun facts about it:
- People often say Benjamin Franklin came up with the idea - he did, but it was a joke. He didn't actually propose it, but jokingly said people should get up earlier so that they used less candle wax in the evening. My boy Benny came up with a lot of things, but never actually said anything about setting the clocks back or forwards.
- It was first actually put into practice in 1895 by a New Zealand entomologist who wanted more time in the evenings to go bug-hunting in the summer (true story).
- The real reason it was put into practice isn't because of farmers and the amount of daylight they have - it was actually to save fuel during war time. It was first put into practice in the US during WW1, and then again during WWII to save energy and fuel.
For us in 2021, it's now just a double edged sword that's great in the fall, but sucks in the spring. The good news: You get an extra hour of sleep. Or, or - a couple more episodes of Seinfeld.
The bad news: Your internal clock sometimes doesn’t sync up with external clocks for a while, and you have to pay the extra hour back in spring!
Whether daylight saving time affects you or not, it’s worth reviewing your sleep habits. Sleep and fitness are locked together. You simply can’t perform at your best or recover properly without a good night’s sleep.
So how much sleep do you need? Like every question, it depends, but shoot for about 7-9 hours; the exact number depends on the person. No matter who you are, you’ll feel worn out if you don’t get enough, and it can be difficult to do that given all the stress busy people deal with.
I want you rested, recovered, and ready to train. So here are a few tips:
- Limit caffeine and alcohol (as best you can) — It can take a long time for caffeine to get out of your system, so avoid it late in the day. Similarly, alcohol can disrupt sleep even though it’s a depressant. Even just one will throw you off. You rest much better if you skip the nightcap!
- Stick to a schedule and create a routine — This can be very tough for parents and shift workers. But, if possible, try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Even if you can’t do that, try to get a routine in place. For example, start winding down well before you want to fall asleep and take care of any end-of-day tasks on a schedule. Take the dog out, brush your teeth, get into your pajamas and get into bed before the time you want to be asleep.
- Remember these letters: CDQ — When it comes to sleep, you want it cool, dark and quiet. Adjust the temperature or get a fan going, hang some blackout curtains, and try to reduce any noise near your bedroom. Maybe don’t run the washer’s spin cycle if the machine is in the next room.
- Turn off screens well before bed — Bright screens can mess with your body’s sleep rhythm, so turn off TVs, tablets and smartphones earlier in the evening. That way your body will be ready to drift off in a dark room.
- Be active (here!) — Physical activity reduces stress and generally improves sleep. One exception: Don’t do a hard workout right before bed. It might be tough to gear down for a while afterward. If possible, leave some space between training and sleeping. But stay active, either with workouts or lots of general physical activity on days off from the gym.
- Avoid naps late in the day—Naps of up to 30 minutes can help some people get through the day, but for others they greatly disrupt sleep patterns. If you’re struggling to sleep, try to limit daytime napping.
- Track your sleep — All sorts of apps and devices can help with this. If you start monitoring sleep, you might see interesting patterns. For example, a person might realize she always sleeps two hours less per night on the weekend due to evenings spent dancing with friends. As a result, Monday’s workouts never go well. Data will help you get the rest you need to be at your best.
When you combine great sleep with sound nutrition and solid training, you’ll feel amazing and make more progress toward your goals. The other beautiful thing about this is it's true all times of the year, not just during daylight savings. Prioritizing training, nutrition, and rest creates an amazing cycle that your body loves.
So. Set an alarm right now for tonight. When it goes off, start your evening routine so you get into bed on time for a good night’s sleep!
P.S. Feeling run down? I’d love to talk to you about optimizing your fitness, nutrition and lifestyle. If you want to chat, book your free no sweat intro here.