So last week I started the first ever You, Me & Anxiety Lab experiment. I'd recommend going back and having a quick read but to summarise quickly; over the next month I'm going to try four different techniques to improve my deep sleep and document their effectiveness.
Last week was no screens 90 minutes before bed, this week is no exercise after 6pm.
My interest in fitness began in my first year of university. I had decided to quit the booze and all of a sudden had a loooot more time on my hands that didn't involve me curled up in bed hanging out my arse (too crass?).
I put this new found time and energy into working out. I soon got carried away with all the bravado and what began as a way to improve my mental health, became an egotistical drive to 'improve' my insecurities.
Long story short, I injured myself and was unable to workout for a couple of years. Those two years really sucked but they taught me to respect my body. I'm now far more interested in holistic approaches to fitness whilst very slowly easing myself back into any weight training.
In regards to my mental health, exercise is really important. That post gym, run, cycle buzz is great and it all keeps my mind a lot clearer.
There are contradicting beliefs around late night exercising. However when you look at what your body is doing; heart rate increases, body temperature heightens and adrenaline is released, it's not exactly the greatest recipe for good sleep.
So I'm keen to see if stopping my late night gym visits results in better sleep!
Week 2 – No Exercise Past 6pm
I went to the gym on Sunday so took Monday as a rest day.
In the evening I prepped my lunches for the week to make sure I stay on track with my diet. I usually cook a load of vegetables together, make a batch of wild/brown rice and whip up a sauce (such as the delicious number found in this recipe – shout out to my sister for that find!).
As Monday was a rest day, other than walking and some stretching I didn't do any exercise.
I slept pretty darn well clocking in a deep sleep PB for the experiment, 17.4%.
I was up fairly early and didn't feel too sluggish. I headed to the gym for 9:30am and got my first morning workout in of the week. It felt pretty good to workout first thing (I'm not quite a Mark Wahlberg, 4am guy) and set me up with a good mindset for the day!
Deep Sleep Level: 17.4%
It dawned on me yesterday that my evenings revolve around going to the gym (a little sad, I know). I normally eat at a particular time, read/watch something for an hour or two then head to the gym for around 7:30pm.
Without that familiar structure I was insanely bored, not even my beloved paint by numbers could keep me entertained. So, note to self – actually plan things.
Last night I again got that deep sleeeeep down, not quite 17.4% but coming in at 15.5%. That's still higher than anything I recorded last week. So watch out sleep, I'm coming for ya.
Deep Sleep Level: 15.5%
After Tuesday evening's boredom debacle, I organised going out with some pals on Wednesday evening.
I was out fairly late for a 'school night' so didn't partake in my usual pre-bed wind down (stretching, reading etc).
I woke up Thursday morning a little tired and sluggish, recording a 13.7% deep sleep score.
Deep Sleep Level: 13.7%
I was in somewhat of a foul mood after finishing work late on Thursday so I really wasn't expecting a good night's shut eye.
Yet, once again the mysterious deep sleep was up to her cryptic ways. In the wise words of the undisputed King of Pop 'Oooh, mysterious girl, I want to get close to you'...
Aaaaaanyway I got a whopping 18.5% deep sleep, my best sleep of the experiment.
I went to the gym around 3pm today so hoping to get that gooooood sleep tonight...
Deep Sleep Level: 18.5%
Oh boy was I wrong about getting some deep sleep last night. The Fitbit recorded it as 7.1%...
Shocking performance, can only apologise to the fans.
Realistically, I can only blame myself. Although I did exercise before 6pm, I was out pretty late and was staring at my phone for about 30 minutes in bed before settling down (shock, horror). I also didn't bother doing any stretching or meditating.
I woke up at 10am, a lot later than usual, and still felt deathly so I think the Fitbit was spot on.
Deep Sleep Level: 7.4%
I've bounced back, after a poor result Friday night, I'm back kicking and clocked in 18% deep sleep.
Saturday was a rest day but I was stricter with myself when it came to having time to wind down before bed. Had a lil' 15 minute stretching session before reading for about 30 minutes.
Back to the gym this afternoon to start a new programme (v. exciting) and of course get in that Sunday jacuzzi time.
Deep Sleep Level: 18%
So, the results are in... and it's looking good.
Last week my average deep sleep was 13.6%, this week it's 15.1%.
Considering that includes my shambolic showing of 7.4% on Friday night, that's a pretty solid number. From memory this is definitely the best week of sleep I've had in quite some time so it will be interesting to see what happens next week if I exercise past 6pm.
All in all, it certainly looks like I'm Peter Andre and I am getting close to that mysterious girl, no? Yeah... I've tried too hard with that metaphor.
Average Weekly Deep Sleep Level: 15.1%
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