This is going to be a quick brain-fart about the reflections I had while bedridden with a strong bout of fever and flu. Because when is the better time to talk about rest than when you’re decommissioned due to the lack of it?
My personal belief is that there are three pillars to a fitness lifestyle. And they are:
If you lack any one of these, it’s going to be hard for you to improve or even maintain good health. I don’t think I need to elaborate on any of these, because they seem to be self-explanatory.
One thing I noticed is that of these 3 pillars, rest & recovery is the most fragile. The other two can make up for the lack of the other for a while. Which is why it’s possible to eat a load of unhealthy stuff as long as you can burn it all in training (although obviously it wouldn’t be as effective in fueling your workouts). You can also tone down the training intensity and still preserve muscle mass so long as you dial in the right amount of macro-nutrients in your diet (you start to lose muscle at around 2 weeks of non-training but degradation can be slowed down by maximizing protein intake).
However, you cannot compensate for the lack of rest and recovery. One can not just eat a lot of healthy food to make up for the lack of recovery. And if you increase your training to make up for the lack of sleep, you’re only gonna get injured and be worse off than before.
Over-training is a real issue, but only for those that have reached the elite level of their sport. For the rest of us who feel burned out, I think that it’s not a matter of over-training, but under-resting. Because let’s be honest, we who have already wired our brains for movement sometimes find it really hard to just stay put and go to bed. But the sooner we realize the importance of recovery, the sooner we can incorporate it correctly in our lifestyles and improve.
I have a complicated relationship with sleep. It’s really hard for me to go to bed but once I’m in bed, it’s also really hard for me to get out of it. Sometimes I think that sleep is just a waste of time, because there aren’t already enough hours of the day as it is. So spending it doing nothing is kind of a waste, right?
But there are a lot of things going on in your body when you’re asleep. And this is different from just resting, okay? We can spend all day lying down on our beds and just on the computer or our phones, and we think that this is already resting. For our bodies, sure, but sleep affects our brains in a much more complicated way than we think.
Sleep is our safeguard from illnesses that could pop up in even the healthiest of bodies. Sleeping is also our body’s way of cleaning out the junk in our brains and preparing ourselves for the next day. I could link you to articles on sleep all day, but it simply has a lot of benefits that we take for granted.
My personal experience with sleep has been a rocky road. Currently my way of life has been a repetition of incurring sleep debt during the weekdays, hoping to pay them off during the weekends. But with the weekend being my only chance to travel or enjoy the outdoors, sleep goes even further down the priorities list and is eventually pushed out of the picture. This leaves me with sleeping only about 5-6 hours per night instead of the recommended 7-8.
Due to this, I have a weakened immune system and am highly susceptible to infections. And with the rainy season about, viral infections are everywhere. Unfortunately, I am currently sick and am still recovering because of my hardheadedness.
This cycle of lack of sleep -> sickness -> recovery -> lack of sleep has been plaguing me for years already, and it’s one of the few things I am ashamed of not learning from over and over again. I just can’t seem to go to bed early!
So now that I am learning my lesson (once again) in the form of a headache and runny nose, I hope that this is a wake up call (ironic) for me to go to sleep. There are some things in life that we can sacrifice, and in my case, sleep is not one of them. Some people manage to function with only 4 hours of sleep, and unfortunately, I didn’t win that perk in the genetic lottery. So I have to make do with what I’m given.
For those with the same problems as me, here are some tips that can probably help us go to bed easier.
- No more computer screens at least one hour before bed. This includes cellphone screens. They emit light which tricks our brains into thinking that it is still time for activities! This is the hardest tip but it is also the best tip. Say goodnight to the internet or any disturbances before bed time.
- Read a book or write on a journal before bed. These are things that calm you down and help your body and mind relax for bed. No E-books!
- Make the room as dark and cozy as possible. If you’re afraid of Diana, then keep a very dim light in the room.
- No more thinking! Stop worrying or thinking hard, let your mind relax so you drift off easily into the night. Let tomorrow take care of itself.
Well, I think I have rambled enough. I slept the whole day today, and that’s an experience I don’t wanna relive. I’ll get better just as I’ve always done before, but I hope that this time I’ll keep this post in mind and put more value on my sleep.
Let this be a lesson to us all. Don’t get sleep debt, and if you do, pay it ASAP before you are forced to pay it the hard way.
Train well, eat well, sleep well.