Health articles on skiing and snowboarding are now mostly focused on getting the legs and core back into top skiing form and shape. Fewer still focus on nutrition and then fewer still focus on one key activity important for good health and this is sleep.
Sleep is an important part of any plan to get and stay healthy. Too often people regard sleep as a nuisance and that we don’t need a whole lot of it. Like many other things people try to sacrifice quantity for quality and in truth we all need a certain quantity of quality sleep.
Sleep Quantity and Quality
How much do we need? The general rule is we need between seven and eight hours of sleep. Some may need less and some may need more than that. I figure I need about 7-½ hours of sleep, and from what I have read we generally need some multiple 1-½ hours of sleep (for example, 5 multiplied by 1-½ is 7-½) as a full cycle is about 1-½ hours long and research suggests it is detrimental to interrupt a sleep cycle. If I allow enough time to meet my needs, I wake up without the use of an alarm clock and if I try to return to sleep I find I am unable to.
Quality is important too! Many people may get the sleep time they need but things they do or conditions they have disrupt the quality of their sleep. One notable condition many folks have responsible for disrupting sleep is obstructive sleep apnea, sleep apnea is when the sleeper’s breathing is disrupted and they stop breathing. The brain notices a drop in blood oxygen levels and rouses the sleeper just enough to restore normal breathing. Of course, they cycle repeats itself through the night and the result is the sleeper is unable to adequately complete sleep cycles. The solutions to this problem include surgery, losing weight, or the use of a CPAP machine to help keep the airways open.
Experts recommend keeping your bedroom cool, quiet, and dark. No TVs, radios, smartphones, reading, etc. The experts say the bedroom is for two things sex and sleep. Do not drink excessively before bedtime and no alcohol does not help with sleep and is in fact a hindrance. It is also wise to not eat too soon before bedtime and give yourself a bit of time between a workout (or work) and the time you go to bed.
One of the most surprising symptoms of poor sleep is nocturia. Nocturia is frequently waking to urinate, no kidding! Of course we know that being groggy throughout the day is another result of poor and inadequate sleep. The grogginess often chases us to purchase soda-pop to help with staying awake and we all know the perils of consuming soda in excess.
One major effect of poor and inadequate sleep are high blood pressure. This one in turns can result in other very serious health problems and may trigger the prescription of medications. Another effect is acid reflux. Yes, many believe acid reflux is a cause of poor sleep (and it certainly can be) it is also an effect, talk about a vicious and positive feedback cycle! When I was doing poorly in the sleep arena frequent auras and near migraine headaches occurred. The research shows that lack of sleep impairs a person in the same way alcohol can and leads to traffic accidents. Some of these effects if the sleeping deprivation goes on can lead to serious health conditions.
Get Your Sleep
Do not believe you will make up the sleep on the weekend, you get one shot per 24 hour cycle to get your sleep in, get it day in and day out. Once in a while we all need to give short shrift to our sleep, but like eating poorly or going on a bender, make those occasional instead of regular events.