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Sleep is one of the core pillars of recovery.
Read more on the other 5 pillars.
If you are not getting enough quality sleep you are setting yourself up for injury risk, decreased performance, and poor mood.
Good sleep is about your daily habits and routines.
Here is how to sleep better in just 4 steps:
- Evaluate your sleep.
- Find the lowest-hanging fruit.
- Optimize your routines.
- Refine routines over time.
Step 1: Evaluate your sleep
Before you look to change a bunch of your daily habits you need to evaluate your sleep.
If you already get enough sleep and feel super rested - don’t waste your time optimizing it.
Getting ‘good’ sleep comes down to getting enough sleep (quantity) and feeling rested (quality).
You need to evaluate both to understand where to start.
Collect some baseline data with pen & paper.
Start by tracking 2 numbers:
- Time in beb
- Time awake
It takes roughly 30-45 mins to fall asleep.
So you can use this formula:
[Time awake] - [Time in bed] - [30min] = time asleep
Some questions to consider:
- How rested do you feel?
- Do you feel tired?
- Did you wake up a lot during the night?
- Are you motivated to train?
- Are you carrying extra fatigue?
Answering these should give you an idea of your sleep quality.
Take this one step further with a number scale:
Rate your overall quality on a scale of 1-10
10 = “I had the best sleep ever” 1 = “I had the worst sleep ever”
Track these 2 numbers for a week.
A good starting point is:
- 7-9 hours avg a night
- 8+ sleep quality score
Once you have your baseline we can begin to optimize.
Step 2: Find the low-hanging fruit
Adults need 7-9 hours minimum of sleep per night.
As an athlete you may need more to fully recover from training.
If you are not getting 7-9 hours than this is the first optimization step. Set your routines up so that you get more time-in-bed.
If you already sleep 7-9 hours than we need to dive deeper into your routines.
Optimizing these routines will help you increase you sleep quality.
Step 3: Optimize your Routines
There are 3 phases of the day where having the right routines can optimize your sleep.
Limit yourself to changing 1 routine at a time, with 1-3 habit changes.
You need to know what is working for you.
The 3 phases are:
- Phase 1: 0-8 hours after waking
- Phase 2: 9-15 hours after waking
- Phase 3: 16-24 hours after waking
If you wake up at 6am it would be:
- Phase 1: 6am - 2pm
- Phase 2: 3pm - 9pm
- Phase 3: 9pm- 5am
Optimize 1 phase at a time
Start with phase 2 as the habits are easy and provide the biggest returns then start optimizing phase 1 and 3.
I’ll give you some key habits for each phase to try in your routines.
The afternoon into the evening is what sets up your sleep.
- Decrease caffeine intake
- Taper food intake
- View natural sunset
- Dim lights after sunset
- Taper technology use
- Non-digital habits (reading, journaling, meditation)
This phase for your morning routine.
- Consistent wake up time
- Get sunlight
- Add movement (walk, yoga, gym)
- Get upright (don’t stay in bed)
- Consume caffeine (60-90min after wake up)
Keep this routine consistent on weekdays and the weekend.
This phase is about getting to sleep & staying asleep.
- Darken room
- Decrease temperature
- Have a warm shower or bath
- Reduce food intake (90 mins to bedtime)
- Limit tech use (90mins to bedtime)
How well you sleep comes down to how you prepare to sleep.
Step 4: Refine your routine
After you optimize each routine perform the same 7 day baseline measurement in step 1.
Compare it to your previous scores.
Again, you are aiming for 7-9 hours with a quality score around 8+.
Repeat this routine for 7 days before making more changes.
Sleep is one of your greatest performance enhancers and recovery aids.
- Evaluate your sleep scores and duration
- Find the lowest hanging fruit
- Optimize 1 routine at a time
- Repeat this cycle
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