Fitness: Eat, train and sleep like an athlete at home

Sophie Mei Lan is a big believer in the power of sleep.Sophie Mei Lan is a big believer in the power of sleep.
Sophie Mei Lan is a big believer in the power of sleep.
Optimum Sleep or a “better rest strategy” seems like an oxymoron to fitness programmes but sleep can support fat loss, improve our immune system and help with our cardiovascular health.

If you want to perform at your peak in any area of life, like an athlete, you need adequate rest and recovery prior to taking action again.

I used to assume athletic performance is as a result of a strict nutrition and exercise plan alone, and neglected the integral power of sleep to promote recovery and achieve results.

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And as humans are “all athletes” and constantly using energy, it's important that we get enough rest to boost our performance through its mind and body benefits and encourage cell repair, building muscle following exercise.

Adequate sleep, rest and recovery is something I have been neglecting too as I just “didn’t have time” to rest.

I like high pace, being productive and am stubbornly ambitious to achieve. I regimentally follow a successful ‘power’ morning routine of exercise, self-care and goal setting, yet I knew I ‘should’ be resting more, I felt scared to stop.

I was getting a 6-7.5 hour rest most nights, depending on work and family commitments, I knew I was cramming sleep in and that would be the first thing that slipped off track in stressful times.

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I needed to tackle this ‘bad habit’ of feeling ‘rest guilt’ which I have had for as long as I can remember and I have started planning in and commuting to weekly rewards at a weekend with my partner and children.

But when it came to sleep, a deeper-rooted fear of mine, I needed strict accountability, a coach and a challenge… three things that motivate most of us.

To start with on our “better rest strategy” journey is to enter the observation zone by actively enabling sleep into our routine through reducing blue light at night and waking up at a set time daily.

In the morning I set my alarm for 6am, get up and exercise within the first hour of waking up without looking at social media, as our best adrenaline is in the morning and we can easily fall into the “scroll hole.”

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I breathe in 30 minutes of fresh air before midday and then by 930pm I switch off technology (reducing small screen time as much as possible as these are even more damaging than television screens), I dim the lights and I am in bed by 10.30pm.

I have also incorporated a 20 minute ‘body scan’ meditation which I can do in the day or at night to not only help relax but to ‘tune me in’ to my sensory experiences.

I have got the kids on board too as we all need to reduce our device time at least an hour before bed, playing sleeping lions as a body scan is a great way for us to restore together and by taking this time to rest, my work is more focused and completed in a shorter period.

I feel more inclined to lift heavier weights when training and most of all I feel proud that I am pushing myself to progress in an area I too have been avoiding.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Sophie will be documenting her sleep journey in her free women’s health club group

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