my life

Misson: Get More Sleep

I’m on a mission… to get more SLEEP.

Sleep has never been my friend and I’m on a mission to make a change!

While training for IMMT last year, I averaged 6 hours of sleep a night…. sometimes 5.5 or less. Not kidding. A typical day would look like this: Wake up at 5:00 (or earlier), train, go to work all day, train, go to sleep at 10:30/11, wake up at 5:00 the next day.

170494_10100656750728149_631111299_o

The truth is … sleep has always been a struggle for me

According to my mom, I never slept much as baby

As a young child (around age 5) I was taken by my parents to a SLEEP DOCTOR because I would NOT sleep… like ever. Needless to say that therapy did nothing.

I remember being in Elementary school and telling my friends that I didn’t sleep at night (partially due to worrying about EVERYTHING… ha, what’s changed?!)

In college I struggled going to sleep especially living in a shoe box of a dorm room and having a loud roomate.

I am a night owl and a morning person.  I like to stay up late and wake up early.  I don’t require a lot of rest… or at least I thought…

I’m a light sleeper, to the extreme.. this might come in handy when we possibly have a child one day… but it sucks right now. Good thing my husband doesn’t snore.

Up until recently, I didn’t think sleep was that big of a deal.  I always had the mentality ‘You’ll sleep when your dead.’

Well this kind of mentality isn’t the smartest thing to have when training as much as I do… the thing is, I NEED sleep to recover!

f6861b0b9bc058186896f28e2baa61f8From the Sleep Foundation:

Some research suggests that sleep deprivation increases levels of stress hormone, cortisol. Sleep deprivation has also been seen to decrease production of glycogen and carbohydrates that are stored for energy use during physical activity. In short, less sleep increases the possibility of fatigue, low energy, and poor focus at game time. It may also slow recovery post-game

Speaking of cortisol

About a month ago, I had my blood tested via the Ultimate Panel from InsideTracker (my new employer!). One of the biomarkers included on the blood test is Cortisol.  I will continue to write about my other results after today, but this was the most concerning.

Why is cortisol an important biomarker to measure?

Your cortisol levels can be a direct reflection of how much or how little you’re sleeping….

Chronic lack of sleep is now regarded as a health hazard and has been associated with several possible health consequences. These include lowered immunity with increased susceptibility to infections, impaired glucose tolerance, low morning cortisol levels, and increased carbohydrate cravings.* Lack of sleep can also elevate circulating estrogen levels, upset hormonal balance, and slow healing and prolong the recovery period.* These are in addition to the decreased alertness and concentration that most people experience when missing an inordinate amount of sleep. {source}

A few weeks ago, my InsideTracker results showed that my CORTISOL levels were high… very high in fact… yikes.

As you can see from the below image, my levels are in the RED zone i.e. HIGH

cortisol

When I saw the results, I sort of freaked out… but then I realized I’m not alone. 

I did some research after getting my test results and it turns out, high cortisol is a common problem among endurance athletes (I had no idea).

There can be too much of any good thing. Just as cortisol turns from good to bad when chronically produced in excess, endurance training turns from healthful to unhealthful when an athlete over-trains. In the over-trained athlete, high cortisol levels may have negative health effects, but even then high cortisol levels are just one of many imbalances seen in endurance athletes who work too hard and don’t rest enough. {source}

Does this mean I’m over trained? Not necessarily. But I am training A LOT and I’m probably not sleeping enough.

So, how do I plan to ‘fix’ my issue with sleep and decrease my cortisol levels?

824838e07667bed698b6332b738532cb

By working on the following:

Currently, I can’t seem to get to bed before 10:00 PM. I’m trying to change that to 9:30/9:45

Turning off TV, iPhone, iPad, Computer well before 10:00 PM

Reading before bed? (but I don’t really like reading…)

Listening to relaxing music before bed?

I struggle with going to bed before Todd, since I am a light sleeper and I don’t want to get woken up… I need to get over this!

Trying meditation? yoga? before bed

Oliver sleeps with us, which does disrupt my sleep at times, but I’m not kicking him out of the bed:) #crazydogmom

Eat more avocado, as this can help decrease cortisol levels (piece of cake for this avo lover)

Retest with InsideTracker in a few months, after I’ve been getting more rest (after all, I could have chronically high cortisol levels…)

 

Are you a good sleeper?

Any tips on getting 8+ hours of sleep?

 

 

 

Previous Post Next Post

You Might Also Like

14 Comments

  • Reply Lee@tri*inspired*life March 13, 2015 at 6:44 pm

    Interesting post. No, I don’t get enough sleep and I don’t do well on little sleep…contrary to your statement, sleep is my friend! When I trained for IM last year, my daily schedule (early up/train/work/train/dinner/bed/REPEAT) looked ALOT like yours does! I felt like I was tired all the time, but I somehow made it through. There were frequent naps on the weekend!

    Since I am training for shorter distances this season, I have fewer super early mornings (except for this week, where I have had massive schedule juggling). I definitely have thought back to the training schedule I maintained last year and marveled about how I got it all in. It seems like you have some good ideas about trying to get in more sleep and good luck trying to find out what works for you. If I wold just turn off the TV and/or put down my device (tablet/phone), I would get more sleep. I just enjoy the downtime, so it can be hard to call it a night, when you know work starts again the next day.

    How is your new job going?

  • Reply Hailey March 14, 2015 at 1:20 am

    My goodness girly, I don’t know how you survive off of so little sleep on a daily basis! I have a couple of days where I have to be to work by 7, so on those days I wake up at 4 to run, and then the night before I just can’t go to bed any earlier than 9. But that’s only a couple to a few days, and I’m falling asleep at like 8:30 those nights haha.

    I’m a pretty good sleeper in my own bed, and my bed only haha. I have to sleep with a fan on and I never got a good night’s sleep before my races in college because we shared a room with one other teammate and I have a hard time sleeping when someone’s in the same room as me and sometimes they don’t like the fan, so I’m kinda outta luck in that situation ha. I also can’t sleep well if I’ve been at a track meet coaching late. It’s just so hard for me to settle down when I get home!

    That’s really exciting that you’re able to get your markers checked by the company you work for! I hope you find some sleep solutions soon :).

    • Reply Kristin March 26, 2015 at 12:41 am

      ha ha I have noooo idea… it’s so crazy. My parents are the same way, so I’m blaming it on genetics?. 8:30? I’m seriously impressed! I am so wired at night, even when I’ve worked out all day, ugh. I HAVE to sleep with a fan, always. When I travel, I sleep with those sound machine apps to the fan noise. I cannot sleep in silence!! Hopefully the next time I get my markers checked, my cortisol will be down a notch.

  • Reply Kristen @ Glitter and Dust March 14, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    I can’t imagine how you trained for an Ironman on so little sleep each night. I would be a walking zombie every day. I need a full nights sleep plus the occasional nap to survive a long training season. I will admit though, that I am like you in that I am both a night owl and morning person. Mornings are my favorite time of the day because I feel the most energized and alert. I love evenings because it is my time to relax and not think. I have a hard time going from 60 to 0 on cue – I need to slowly ease into bedtime. Typically I will get into bed around 10 and fall asleep around 10:30. My husband and I both get up around 6-6:30 depending on the day. If I’m tired mid afternoon or need a little pick-me-up I will take a 30-minute nap. Naps help a lot!!! I hope you are able to figure out something that works better for you sleep-wise. How is your new job and schedule? Do you have any flexibility?

    • Reply Kristin March 26, 2015 at 12:39 am

      I know, sounds totally crazy right?! I have started to take little naps when I get the chance, and I find I feel a lot better when I do. This last week I took TWO naps, so proud of myself! My problem is getting to bed before 10 PM, it’s literally impossible for me. I haven’t started the new job yet, I start in a few weeks! I should hopefully have some flexibility so I can sleep more:) I’ll also get the chance to bike to work, and I can’t wait for that.

  • Reply Leslie @ Triathlete Treats March 17, 2015 at 10:45 pm

    This is what I have been telling you!! Sleep is huge for recovery!! Years ago I thought the same thing: I can sleep when I am dead but definitely as I have gotten older and a more seasoned triathlete I have learned how important it is to sleep! 🙂
    I try and sleep at least 8 hours!! 🙂

    • Reply Kristin March 26, 2015 at 12:37 am

      Yes you were right, totally spot on with the sleep!! I used to think it wasn’t a big deal, but boy was I wrong. My goal is to get wayyy more sleep training for IMMT this year. It’s getting into bed early that’s my problem… I need to find ways to wind down!

  • Reply Desiree March 18, 2015 at 1:18 am

    Very interesting. I have suspected that I have high levels of cortisol also based on what I have studied but I have never had a test. I used to have bad acid reflux that would have me up most nights, thankfully I have it somewhat under control now. One thing recently that has helped me sleep better is I invested in a good pillow. I had a gift card to Sleep Number. It has been a dream the minute my head hits it. Jack also sleeps with us but like you, I’m also a crazy dog mom.

    • Reply Kristin March 26, 2015 at 12:36 am

      I seriously need a good pillow… I sleep on my stomach (which is NOT a good way to sleep BTW) and I could use a new pillow. I will look into the Sleep Number ones, never thought of that! Oh and how can you say no to a westie in the bed?! no way! 🙂

  • Reply Megan @ Meg Go Run March 18, 2015 at 6:38 pm

    I used to sleep so well. Like a baby. Not anymore. I still like going to bed early (around 9) and getting up early (5:30)… but the past several months I have been a mess. I usually fall asleep, but if I wake up for any reason during the night, I cannot fall back asleep. It is horrible. For instance, for the past two mornings I woke up at 3:49 am. Horrible. My husband snores so that is part of it. And I cannot sleep through that, it really grates my nerves. So then I go sleep out in the living room but that is not comfy at all. Oh I could go on and on! But I would love to get back to the way I used to sleep!

    • Reply Kristin March 26, 2015 at 12:33 am

      I also have the ‘not falling back to sleep’ problem. Once I wake up, my mind starts racing, no matter WHAT time it is, ugh. I’m lucky my hubby doesn’t snore, I’m not sure how you do it.. I would be in the living room too, trust me!

  • Reply InsideTracker and Ironman Training Progress – Sweat Courage April 7, 2015 at 7:29 pm

    […] trying to get more sleep.  I posted about this a few weeks ago… I’m working on it… but it’s not […]

  • Reply ig February 27, 2017 at 2:37 am

    Greetings! Very useful advice within this article!

    It’s the little changes that make the most important changes.
    Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply augustaairconditioning March 4, 2017 at 5:35 pm

    This post is genuinely a fastidious one it helps new the web visitors, who are wishing in favor of blogging.

  • Leave a Reply