The Man Flow Yoga Guide to Better Sleep & Faster Recovery
I designed this page because I want you to be sure that you are adequately addressing a CRITICAL part of your fitness – your sleep and recovery. If you are not sleeping well, you may as well not be working out. (I’m serious!) Your body only gets stronger when you are asleep. Your workout is calculated stress on your body – muscle fibers broken down during your workout are signals to your body that the areas affected should be further reinforced. For example, the burning feeling in your legs the day after a difficult lower-body workout is not just soreness; it’s also a signal to your body that your legs need to be stronger, and your body responds by sending nourishment to your legs, so that muscle may grow and muscle fibers are regenerated.
If you follow the guidelines below, I guarantee you that you will see better results.
Note: It could be overwhelming to incorporate all of these practices at once. Start with one, and slowly add in others over time. That is the best method for success!
7.5 – 9 hours of sleep per night. That’s your minimum. On top of this, you also want to follow a few guidelines to make sure your mind and body are prepared for sleep, and that you won’t wake up in the middle of the night or sleep poorly.
- Eat good fats and high-quality proteins proteins. Fats and proteins tell your body that is satiated, and this allows you to go to sleep. (Examples: salmon, avocado, refined MCT oil)
- Make it dark. If you haven’t yet, purchasing blackout curtains could be one of the smartest decisions for your health that you can make (other than starting Man Flow Yoga, of course). Blindfolds work, too.
- Eliminate noise. Ear plugs are one of my favorite tools for better sleep. Click here to get yourself the best ear plugs there are.
- Turn up the AC, and sleep naked. The temperature of your bedroom (or wherever you’re sleeping) should be between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. If you can’t sleep naked, wear some breathable fabric like cotton.
- Make a bedtime (ideally right around after it gets dark). If you go to bed at the same time every night, it will make your sleep more regular.
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The Do not’s:
- No TVs, phones, or computers 2 hours before you go to sleep. The light from these machines tricks your brain into thinking that it is still day time, and negatively affects your body’s ability to produce melatonin to help you sleep. If you have no choice (you have work, your significant other insists on watching a show, etc) just slip on these glasses and you’re protected from blue-light. I’ve used these for over a year now, and I still use them on a daily basis.
- No exercise 3 hours before sleep. Try to get your workouts done at least 3 hours before you go to sleep, or you’ll be wired from the workout. The exception here is if you are doing a slow, restorative yoga class, or deep stretching to help you relax.
- No sugars immediately before sleep. Put down the ice cream, and even the apples and bananas before you go to sleep.
- No intense work before bed. Furiously scribbling your business plan into your notebook before you go to sleep will not help you relax, even if you’re not using a computer.
- No caffeine after 2:00 PM. If you’re sensitive to caffeine, this caffeine curfew could be as early as 10 AM.
- No alcohol within 2 hours of the time you go to sleep. You should be sober by the time you go to sleep for optimal rest.
- Meditate before bed. If meditation isn’t your thing, don’t think of it as meditation. Just sit in a comfortable chair, review your day in your head, focus on your breath, and try not to react to anything. It’s like brushing your teeth for your mind.
- Read. Find an easy read (try not to break out that advanced philosophy book) and spend a few minutes lazily reading it in dim light with minimal distractions before going to sleep. This will help you wind down. Make sure to keep the light low.
- Deep stretching or slow yoga. The 18-Min Before Bed Stretching for Hip Flexibility workout is a perfect example of this. This will help your body relax and also help your mind slow down. Make sure that you aren’t pushing it too hard, or the result will be the opposite (you’ll wake up instead of wind down).
- Epson salt baths. This will help relieve sore muscles in your body. Once per week (on your off day) is a great goal to aim for.
- Self-myofasical release. Grab a KnotOut or a lacrosse ball and work on releasing muscle knots and tension from your body. Add in some deep breathing and you’ll sleep like a baby when you’re finished. Click here to learn more about self-myofasical release.
This is a brief list of some of the most simplest, most effective methods of improving your sleep. Here is a list of further resources if you are interested in learning more about improving your sleep and speeding up your recovery:
- Sleep Smarter: 21 Essential Strategies to Sleep Your Way to A Better Body, Better Health, and Bigger Success – By Shawn Stevenson
- 6 Benefits of a Consistent Mobility Practice – from Man Flow Yoga
- The Mobility Project – a workout series I designed that teaches you mobility techniques you can use on every part of your body.
You might be interested in some tips on starting off your yoga practice, so read on! 3 blogs covering some basics.
About the author, Dean Pohlman, Founder & CEO of Man Flow Yoga, Author of Yoga Fitness for Men, Expert on Yoga Fitness for Men.
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