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Cycling Fitness: The Power of Sleep

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Cycling fitness is built on a healthy lifestyle. It’s hard to chase after cycling goals when we’re injured or ill. One of the largely overlooked key components to health and fitness is sleep.

Have you ever heard the phrase “I’ll sleep when I’m dead?” Well, there’s a chance of that becoming a self fulfilling prophecy. Stephen Cherniske, M.S. states in his book The DHEA Breakthrough;

“sleep…is incredibly important down time when the body is restored and repaired. And it’s not just the body but the mind as well. Sleep keeps us sane, and the lack of sleep causes a great deal of mental and emotional dysfunction. Sleep research has shown that you can produce classic signs of psychosis in a person simply by his or her sleep three nights in a row. Mood, mind, and behavior are powerfully linked not only to the amount of sleep but to the quality of sleep…”

When we become sleep deprived we look for stimulants to artificially prop us up. Most of America pounds “energy drink” after “energy drink” just stay awake these days. In fact, caffeine doesn’t give your body energy! It gives your body stress. The heightened alertness is short-lived and is followed by the crash. If we keep running our bodies in this manner, constantly fueling it with caffeine, we’ll put our bodies in a miserable and completely dysfunctional state.

So how do we get more sleep? While we can’t control most of our life we can set up boundaries.  If you’re reading this blog then I assume that you’ve either made riding your bike for exercise a priority or are at least trying to. That’s one major improvement that will pay dividends in the short and long term.

According to Dr, Wayne Scott Andersen, who summarized numerous sleep studies, “poor sleep has been linked to increased inflammation, a higher risk of cardiovascular incidence-and even obesity.” Dr. A’s Habits of Health. Reading further through his book, I realized that sleep can tip the scales and put us into a downward spiral.

Recently, I’ve been experimenting with my sleep to find out exactly what my body needs to function properly. I followed a methodology that started out with 8.5 hours of sleep the first night, 8 hours the second, etc…all the way down to 6 hours of sleep.  I woke up at 6:00 am each morning but altered the time I went to bed.  For me, somewhere between 7.5 and 8 hours of sleep is ideal.  Sure I can function on 6 hours but I didn’t have much pep in my step and had to dig deep to get my workout done.

I’ve known how important the bedtime routine is for my kids but just recently discovered that it applies to me too. Who knew? I’m still struggling with locking down a routine for me to follow but have at least turned off the TV in the bedroom.  That’s a start, right? The goal is to turn out the lights and slow my mind and body down as quickly as possible to hang out with Mr. Sandman as long as possible.  It’s a work in progress but its well worth the effort.

Did this help? Do you have other ideas about setting a bedtime routine? I’d love to hear from you.  If you have questions about nutrition, weight loss or training, I can help.  Please contact iBikeBlog.  Thank you!

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