Sleep: your secret weapon for health and performance

You may be preoccupied with life, exercise, work, family… For optimal health and performance there is one overlooked factor that can make a HUGE difference (and it’s FREE).  It is SLEEP!

Yes, that is right friends, there is probably not a more important aspect of health to master than this one. I know you have heard it before, but have you actually listened? I don’t think most of us truly know how much better we will feel and perform if we get this dialed in. Plus, the health benefits that we won’t actually feel are immense as well. Oh, and by the way, this is true for any human at any activity level, not just runners so spread the word.

Getting enough quality sleep is crucial. There is not a system in the body that doesn’t improve with sleep….did you let that sink in? In other words…EVERYTHING GETS BETTER WHEN YOU GET YOUR ZZZs.

I could write a 20-page paper on all the reasons you need to get a good night’s sleep, but I will keep it super brief. The list below is proven time and time again in studies:

Improves recovery and reduces injury risk

Sleep is essential for recovery allowing your body to repair and rebuild muscle tissue that has been damaged during exercise. Lack of sleep can lead to decreased muscle recovery, increased inflammation, and a higher risk of injury. More sleep equals more human growth hormone production…that’s a good thing!

Boosts performance

Sleep is also essential for optimizing performance. It allows for better nervous system function, better reaction time, improved decision-making, more muscle building, and improved coordination.

Helps regulate appetite and metabolism

When you don’t get enough sleep, your body produces more of the hormones that stimulate hunger and less of the ones that signal fullness. I don’t know about you, but when I don’t get enough sleep I crave bad food (are salt & vinegar chips bad?).

Improves mental health

Lack of sleep can lead to increased stress, anxiety, and depression, all of which can negatively impact your performance and overall well-being. Sleep allows your body to regulate moods and emotions.


There are many tips and tricks all over the internet claiming to help with sleep…some good, some not so good. Here are two tips that have some proven efficacy to them. I adopted these years ago and they are vital components of my “Sleep Hygiene Routine”.

Take a hot soak (sauna, bath, or shower) before bed


Put the screens away

Let me explain…

Your body has a natural cycle that it goes through called the Circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is our internal clock that regulates the sleep-wake cycle and repeats roughly every 24 hours.

As the sun goes down in the evening our internal body temperature starts to drop. The reduction of sunlight helps trigger this drop in temperature and points us in the direction of sleep…so cool right?

Here is the problem… A short while back the lightbulb was invented, and then the television, and then the computer, and then the smartphone. Your devices keep light (blue light) coming into your eyeballs and screw with your circadian rhythm. Not only does this direct effect of the light in your eyes affect us, but the content you are looking at on your devices (social media) can lead to emotional changes and chemical changes in your body as well. So put away the phone 30-60 minutes before bed! Get the light out of your eyes by dimming or shutting off lights, and get the social media out of your brains!

Ok back to the temperature changes…If we take a hot soak before bed it will actually increase our temperature…

“…but Michael you just said our body temperature should go down in the evening… “

Yes, you are correct but heating up before bed forces you to move heat away from your body’s core and send it to the skin to cool you. By cooling your core it can “trick” your body into the cooling phase of your circadian rhythm which will point us in the direction of sleep…Make sense? I hope it does.

To sum it up

Sleep is crucial and by improving your sleep habits, you can optimize your physical and mental performance, reduce your risk of injury, and improve your overall health and well-being.

So 30-60 minutes before bed try to put phones away and do a hot soak…just try it trust me!!


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