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Another Unofficial Challenge!

By Marcus | In Challenges | on April 12, 2012

Last month I encouraged you to work on your pullups (and hopefully pushups) and those of you that did remarked on the improvements you saw from regularly hitting those simple movements. This mid-April challenge is a different kind of task, and one that many of you likely overlook. We trainers stress the importance of three things to complement the work you do in the gym — nutrition, recovery (aka mobilization) and sleep. It’s a bit sad that sleep tends to be one of the most neglected items on the list.

You should be striving to get somewhere between 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. As I posted before, your body actually operates in sleep cycles, which tend to be roughly 90 minutes long. Due to this, that 7 to 9 hour suggestion actually works out to 7.5 or 9 hours, depending on whether you can sneak in an extra cycle. Added benefit: when you are getting enough sleep, you will be able to wake before your alarm and not suffer that early morning extreme grogginess.

Back in June 2010, Ruth threw out a sleep challenge in the comments section of that month’s “official” challenge. Sure, all of you (hopefully!) sleep every night, but we’re going for quality in addition to quantity. This time around I want to make a few specific rules to give you all guidelines to follow:

  • You must opt in via the comments or by sending me an email saying you’re in
  • Track your sleep nightly, and email me the totals each Thursday
  • Challenge begins tonight, April 12th and continues through Wednesday, May 9th
  • Totals are due on each Thursday at 8pm, no exceptions
  • Times are to be recorded to the nearest 15 minute interval, rounding down
  • Only uninterrupted sleep counts (while naps are great, they do not count toward the challenge)

Now I’m sure some may scoff at a “sleep challenge”, thinking it’s the easiest thing in the world. For those, I have a special bonus challenge, based on my Red Lights post — no electronics for an hour before bed. It’s not as tough as it sounds, but for some of you, cutting the cord (literally) is like kicking an addiction. For the bonus challenge, pick your bed time and an hour before, light some candles or an oil lamp. Turn off any computers, TVs and especially smartphones. Take that hour to unwind before you sleep. Do some long-neglected mobility or rolling, meditate or just reflect on your goals. Depending on the candlepower, you might even be able to read (no, it won’t kill your eyesight). You will be surprised how much more easily you will drift off to sleep and how much deeper your sleep can be. For every night you add this to the mix, make sure to notate it on your sleep log. Sounds too tough? Then just stick to the main challenge.

Because I feel this is an important (and oft neglected) facet of your overall health, I’m going to kick in for a small prize for the “winners” (four overall). I won’t state the specific categories just yet — to avoid any gaming, intentional or otherwise. Got questions? You know what to do!

Update:

Participants So Far

  1. Marcus (albeit ineligible for prizes, obviously)
  2. Bryant
  3. Tyler
  4. Amanda
  5. Scott
  6. Alia
  7. Anna
  8. Jon
  9. Ray
  10. A.J.
  11. Mike H.
  12. Kyle
  13. Holley
  14. Randy
  15. Mike K.
  16. Corrine
  17. Celina

WOD 04.12.12

Skills Day

24 Comments to "Another Unofficial Challenge!"

  • Bryant says:

    April 12, 2012 at 7:51 AM -

    Count me in

  • Tyler says:

    April 12, 2012 at 7:59 AM -

    Count me in. Easy work, I go to bed the same time as lights out in a retirement home. I turned down stadium club tickets at the dodger game tonight in fear that I would go to bed too late.

  • Amanda says:

    April 12, 2012 at 8:02 AM -

    Count me in.

  • Scott says:

    April 12, 2012 at 9:42 AM -

    I think Tyler should get half credit. As should Anna. I seem to recall she’s a sleeping machine!!

    On the other hand I tend to run on 5-6 hours per night and a pot of coffee per day. I never sleep. This is going to be as dramatic a change for me as Paleo was 2 years ago. Maybe even more so.

    I’m in. I’m hoping I can hit 7.5 hours per night. And I’ll run out today to grab some candles. I’m thinking an hour of reading by candlelight before bed each night would be a good idea. And I’m removing all electronic lights from our bedroom.

    I don’t know how long I’ll make it, but even a week or two would be great!

  • Amanda says:

    April 12, 2012 at 10:07 AM -

    Marcus, thanks for answering about Kindles – need to have the eInk cert. Which means no to the Kindle Fire.

    I have PLENTY of paperbacks I need to read, and I have a funny feeling that the one hour prior to bed of reading “Atlas Shrugged” may start the clock early… if that’s the case, is it my failure to meet the one hour blue light, or a win, because I’m getting more sleep?!? Half serious, half sarcastic?

    1. Marcus says:

      April 12, 2012 at 10:30 AM -

      @Scott — this isn’t even a “how long you can make it” since there will undoubtedly be better days and worse days. Last night, writing the post cut into my normal no electronics time. As long as you’re sending me your sleep logs weekly, you’re good to go.

      @Amanda — first of all, hopefully you don’t burn your house down falling asleep while reading by candlelight. Secondly, in a case like that, you would estimate when you fell asleep and notate that you were also following the bonus challenge at the time. (Yes, it’s a double win). As for your other question, logging starts with sleep accumulated tonight.

      Kindle clarification: the Kindle, while electronic, is okay as long as it is of the E-Ink variety. That means no Kindle smartphone apps, nor the Kindle Fire, since they have the backlight we’re trying to avoid.

  • Amanda says:

    April 12, 2012 at 11:17 AM -

    WAHOO!

  • Alia says:

    April 12, 2012 at 12:33 PM -

    IN! Sounds good.

  • Anna says:

    April 12, 2012 at 1:59 PM -

    I rock at sleep challenges, especially since I go to work later now! However, count me out for the bonus round, Brian will sabotage that nightly!

  • Jon says:

    April 12, 2012 at 2:35 PM -

    I am adding my name to the list, but I do require some clarification. The challenge stipulates that the sleep be uninterrupted. If one wakes in the night to let out the dog, tend to a child, or use the restroom, is that night’s sleep nullified for challenge purposes?

    1. Marcus says:

      April 12, 2012 at 2:43 PM -

      @Jon — interrupted sleep leads to less deep and REM sleep, which is important for overall health and that’s why it is the goal of this challenge to avoid the interruptions. However, I totally understand that life gets in the way, and in those cases you would count the largest segment of sleep you got that night. In other words, if you slept from 10pm until 3am, then woke to let a dog out and then slept from 3:15am until 8am, you would count it as 5hrs for the purpose of your log.

      If in doubt, just send me the time(s) you slept and I will run the calculations.

  • Ray says:

    April 12, 2012 at 3:01 PM -

    I’m in. I would think I’d be pretty good at sleeping with all the naps I take, but setting a bed time and no tv/video games an hour before bed is going to be tough.

    1. Marcus says:

      April 12, 2012 at 3:13 PM -

      @Ray — better get that sleep while you can!

  • A.J. says:

    April 12, 2012 at 3:44 PM -

    Finally a challenge I can do, I’m in.

  • Michael H says:

    April 12, 2012 at 4:18 PM -

    This is tougher than eating 3 full meals a day. But I’ll give it ago. If I sleep late, I’ll just go to work late :)

    Count me in!

  • Kyle says:

    April 12, 2012 at 4:21 PM -

    Count me in for challenge + bonus!

  • Holley says:

    April 12, 2012 at 6:00 PM -

    I’m in, any excuse to make Nick let me sleep in a little longer. :) No bonus challenge for me, work isn’t allowing for that right now…or taxes.

  • Randy says:

    April 12, 2012 at 7:35 PM -

    You can count me in too!! I need really need to control my sleep, I know I dont get enough. :(

  • Mike K says:

    April 13, 2012 at 8:46 AM -

    Is it too late to join in on the fun?

    1. Marcus says:

      April 13, 2012 at 9:05 AM -

      @Mike K– not at all! Added you to the list.

  • Corrine says:

    April 13, 2012 at 10:46 AM -

    I’m in as well + bonus.

  • Ray says:

    April 13, 2012 at 11:59 AM -

    So last night, I fell asleep around 12 and woke up in the morning around 5:45, fell back asleep and woke up at 6:45. Does that only count for the 5 hrs and 45 min, or am I adding in the extra hour?

    Also, we were working on the bonus, but I was struggling to stay awake for an hour after I turned off everything. If we have < 1 hour of time off from tv/phone/computer does that still count?

    Btw – I found that 1hr of time away from everything, is great for stretching and rolling; but not sure if it was that or the candles that got me really sleepy really fast.

    1. Marcus says:

      April 13, 2012 at 12:07 PM -

      @Corrine — added you.
      @Ray — it would be 5hr 45min (or 5.75hrs). If in doubt people, just send me your actual sleep times and I’ll work it out. If you’re trying for the bonus and finding yourself falling asleep before that hour, don’t fight your body’s desire to fall asleep. I’ll address this further on Monday’s post since Scott had the same question.

      Bottom line though — don’t fight your body’s desire to fall asleep. That’s the whole goal of this “challenge”, regardless of any bonus. Sleeping more = win.

  • Celina says:

    April 13, 2012 at 12:52 PM -

    I’m in!

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