In my last post about training with fatigue, I talked about some ways that I have found and that you can experiment with to try to assess if there is any way you can exercise, when you are feeling fatigued, and be relatively sure that it is a good option for you. However, the information in that article leaves a big hole that I will try to address now…
“What if I just can’t make it work?”
Good question, Literary Device! There will be times when more conscious movement is just not the answer. So, if we are dedicated to “better”, we need to have a way to look for “better” when exercise movement isn’t “better”, right?
You are feeeeeeling sleeeeeeeeepyyyyyyy!
The main time that I think it could be a better idea to throw in the towel on exercise movement is when you actually feel like going to sleep. Not just “hey, I’m lacking in energy” but “wow, a nap sounds great right now” kind of sleepy.
Using The Movement protocols (current starter product being “Martial Arts Masterplan“), we have found great use out of being “internally governed”. In a nutshell, this means not SEEKING internal sensations (like when your typical trainer tells you to “FEEL your lats” or “FEEL how x joint is moving”) but responding to sensations when they present themselves. So when I am moving, I think about the movement and if a sensation/emotion/intuitive urge makes itself felt DESPITE my focus on the movement, I endeavour to respond to it in a useful fashion.
It is pretty rare that you have to stop and think “Hey… do I feel tired right now? Do I think I could go to sleep?”, isn’t it? Usually instead you find the sensation of sleepiness bursting forth and refusing to be ignored! So, my thought is that if you are presented with such a strong sensation and you have the opportunity to respond to it, it would probably be a good idea to do so.
“Going to sleep” isn’t just going to sleep…
The thing is, acknowledging your sensations better is only half of the picture. Responding better is the other.
Do you find that every time you put your head down, close your eyes and go to sleep that the sleep is perfect, refreshing and suited your needs entirely? Of course not. So that would mean that there is room for improvement, a better way to respond or read the sensation and improve action.
I’m going to try to avoid letting this post run on too long and just give you a bullet point list of areas for you to experiment with, that I have found useful:
- Lighting (eye mask, roller shutters, night lights, a lamp, anything)- Usually darker is better, but variety in humans is quite incredible. Just cause it “should” be better doesn’t mean it is for you!
- Background sound (silence, white noise, music, audio aids)- My current favourite for power naps is the 20 minute tracks found at napsounds.com. If I put on an eyemask and headphones and snooze through the day’s “Nature” generated track, I rarely feel drowsy afterward and usually feel well refreshed. Some people find “binaural beats” or “isochronic tones” tracks designed for “sleep induction” to help; responses to both are mixed.
- Caffiene (reducing daily consumption, increasing early consumption, consuming DIRECTLY before a nap, increasing time without before sleep)- I find a strong mug of black coffee JUST before a power nap can be very helpful.
- Sleep position (front, back, pillow/no pillow/different pillow, left/right side, left/right head position, tucked/extended neck, flexed/extended arms, straight/bent legs)- I find that better sleep position varies day in and day out for me. My starting test position is close to neutral as possible (lying on my back with my arms straight and no pillow), then adding position changes from there until I find the most neutral comfortable position. Also ROM tested (like exercise position).
- Food – If I am having trouble “winding down”, I find large doses of carbohydrate help me sleep. If I am waking and feeling unrested, I find that large (90g+) amounts of protein sources before sleep seem to help me feel better rested/recovered (after a full sleep, not a nap).
- Supplements – There are all kinds of advice out there about supplements to help with sleep quality; I can’t say I’ve dabbled enough to have much of a stance. I know sometimes when I have been taking Creatine Monohydrate consistently it SEEMS to help me with fatigue from sleep deprivation. Other than that, I’ll let you do your own research. (Unless I come across something new.) Melatonin seems to be a popular one.
So the main takeaway is that if you don’t feel like exercise because sleeping feels like a better idea, I’d say it’s a good plan to try and listen to that and nap or sleep if you have the opportunity. There’s a difference between feeling lazy and feeling genuinely tired, so responses should be considered seperately, I would say.
However, if you skip your exercise session, don’t nap and don’t go to bed any earlier, don’t come crying to me about a wasted opportunity! Acting upon sensations means trying to read them accurately, not use them as an excuse for other behaviours. ;)
Can’t get something to test well and don’t actually feel sleepy? Hmm, trickier (because it is a wider scope), but I’ll try to write up a Part III and delve into my thoughts on this a little…