Of all the things we focus on in CrossFit I think proper sleep is the most underrated and often most neglected. We spend hours working on a kipping pull-up. Some of us spend entire years dedicated to getting that elusive first muscle-up. It’s not even listed in the hierarchy of CrossFit training (nutrition, metabolic conditioning, gymnastics, weightlifting and throwing, sport). However, by far, amount and quality of sleep will have the most far-reaching consequences.
Sleep is essential to allow the body a chance to recover from a workout and repair the damage that was done. In order to improve we must balance our challenges with recovery. It’s not a matter of over-training that stagnates people, it’s under-resting. Lack of proper rest and recovery will affect workout intensity, the driving force of change built into the workouts. When you lack proper rest you open yourself up to injury, plateauing, and a general loss of motivation. Cut short your sleep and you short-circuit your training. Even worse, researchers have noted that people who get less than six hours of sleep per night have an increased risk of dying prematurely. The body needs long hours of uninterrupted sleep for hormonal balance. Every night your body goes the process of repairing, regenerating and revitalizing tissues. This process takes time. We need 8 hours of sleep, minimum. To operate optimally, 9 hours of sleep are recommended.
To learn more about the benefits of a good night’s sleep I recommend reading “Light’s Out: sleep, sugar, and survival” by T.S. Wiley. But make sure you’re hitting the sack by 10.