Sleep Your Way To Better Physical and Mental Performance

Photo by: Thomas Hawk

If you don’t get enough sleep, personal performance suffers.  It’s that simple.  Oh, and you probably don’t get enough sleep.  According to the Newsweek Article, The Surprising Toll of Sleep Deprivation, adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each night to feel fully rested and function at their best.

Most of us aren’t getting that much sleep.  The cumulative effects of shorting ourselves on sleep, even if it is just a little each night, include a steady decline in cognitive abilities and reaction time…not likely to help you think creatively at work or perform well athletically.  Long term, short sleep duration can unbalance hormones and lead to negative long term health effects.

Ultimately, quality sleep is central to your quality of life…so, what are some strategies for getting a good night’s sleep.  The Zen to Fitness post Switch Off And Get Some Sleep discusses the pitfalls of modern distractions and how they keep us from getting to bed.  This post also provides strategies for establishing a more regular sleep pattern.

If you do not prefer sleeping for 7 to 9 consecutive hours or your work and commuting schedule do not allow for it, then you should review the Straight to the Bar article Biphasic Sleep: 30 Day Summary.  Scott Bird provides a thorough review of his experience adopting this sleep routine, which focuses on ninety minute sleep cycles and breaks each day’s sleep into two intervals.  Scott provides a thorough report and concludes that overall he loves this approach to sleep.

One last thought on getting a good night’s sleep comes from Mike Mahler.  Mike applies magnesium transdermally (as an oil) and takes 5mg of melatonin before going to bed.  As discussed previously in the post Consult Your Biological Clock to Optimize the Effectiveness of Vitamin and Mineral Supplements, magnesium and zinc tend to induce drowsiness, which is why I take these supplements after dinner.  I frequently use melatonin to help me get to sleep and ward off the effects of jet lag while travelling.  I usually take 1-2mg in these situations.  5mg strikes me as a pretty large dose, but Mike is a big guy.

Because I have melatonin on hand, for the last two weeks, I have been taking it before bed.  The results, I fall asleep more quickly and sleep more soundly.  During the day I feel better too…not surprising, now that I am getting more sleep.



Consult Your Biological Clock to Optimize the Effectiveness of Vitamin and Mineral Supplements



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5 responses to “Sleep Your Way To Better Physical and Mental Performance

  1. Ah, the power of sleep. I’m amazed by how many people think a lack of sleep “doesn’t affect them.” Ever since my teenage years my friends made fun of me and called me a “grandma” for wanting to go to bed early. But my body knows how much sleep can do to keep me happy and healthy.

    • stoffainkorea

      I almost titled this post Sleep It’s Not Just For Teenagers. Glad to hear that you didn’t give in to the peer pressure to just stay awake a little longer.

  2. Much more to say on this, but briefly :

    It’s worth focusing on the quality of sleep, rather than the quantity. I’d rather have a ‘good’ 6 hours than a poor 7-9 hours any day.

    I agree, diet plays a major role. I’d love to hear more about your melatonin supplementation. How are you measuring the improvements?

    • stoffainkorea

      Scott: When I switched my zinc and magnesium supplements to the evening, I noticed that I could drop off to sleep a bit easier. I made sure to read before bed with a desk or book lamp, so that I was not going from screen time to bed time. With this program, I had only occasional nights where getting to sleep was difficult. A more common problem was popping awake at 2 or 3 or 4 in the morning. This usually meant going out on the couch to read until I got drowsy again and then trying for another hour or two of sleep. Since I have been taking melatonin, I fall asleep like a little kid. I read a little bit, get drowsy, turn off the lamp, and I am out before my head settles into the pillow. This is good, but the great thing is; I sleep straight through the night…no trips to the bathroom, no trips to the couch. I don’t wake up groggy or sluggish either. So, the measurements for me are: (1) time falling asleep…which I measure two ways, how much time do I spend reading, before I reach for the lamp and from the time I switch the light off, how long does it take to get to sleep. Both of these times are much shorter for the last two weeks, as I am not making much progress on my books and I am out soon thereafter…meanwhile, measurement (2) is how long do I sleep before waking up. For the last two weeks, the only sleep interruptions I have had, have been self-imposed, getting up early for 2 World Cup games. Otherwise, I sleep right through the night from +/- 2230 to 0530 or 0600. Prior to taking melatonin, this was a rare event. I will keep a journal for the next two weeks, to verify the above anecdotal report.

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