We’re super excited to have Coach Caric write another insightful blog post on what “Eat, Sleep, Cheer” truly means for cheerleaders. We love the post and think it’s a need-to-read for any aspiring cheerleader or cheer parent.For more information click here and make sure to follow the team on Instagram @coach_caric & @teamcaric!
UK Blog Awards 2019 Nominee (Sport & Fitness)
Humans have been around for approximately two and a half millions years as a product of over four billion years of evolution from the first life form on the planet. We have adapted and developed and evolved into what we are today which is an upright two-legged being with high manual dexterity and an incredible brain which has a capacity for learning like no other living creature can get close to.
We have evolved to have eight to nine hours sleep at night, triggered by an absence of blue light which allows our pineal gland to produce melatonin and create an optimum resting state for sleep and brain regeneration. We have evolved to exercise by hunting and climbing and swimming and building shelters. And we have evolved to eat a range of foods to give us all the essential nutrients to allow us to function.
The chances are you’re reading this on a smartphone or laptop and probably in the evening after work or school. Maybe as you’re lying in bed just before you go to sleep?
High stimulus gadgets such as lap tops, tablets, mobile phones and games consoles emit blue light which is usually only present during daylight hours. The blue light enters the eye and inhibits the pineal gland which remains switched off until it becomes dark then it starts to secrete melatonin, the sleep hormone, which travels round the body preparing us for sleep. Blue light inhibits the function of this gland by tricking the brain into thinking it is daytime which prevents sleep and disrupts our circadian rhythm or body clock.
Let’s work it backwards. If you have to get up at 7am, you need to be asleep by 11pm minimum. That means that you need to be avoiding blue light from 8pm in order to start your sleep cycle on time. Sure, you might fall asleep minutes after you stop looking at your phone but that doesn’t mean you’ll get quality sleep and will probably wake up tired. A recent study showed that over one third of the country is sleep deprived to a dangerous level.
If we look at exercise, how many of us went hunting for food today? Chasing our prey across plains and over hills, climbing trees and swimming rivers? Nobody? Okay, who went for fast-food? Who used an app on their smartphone to get somebody to bring food to them? Who missed breakfast? Who missed lunch? Quite a few I would guess.
The average Western person is deficient in at least fifteen essential nutrients. Nutrients which perform vital functions for us. We have evolved to consume a varied diet and in doing so we access a wide range of vitamins and minerals. We haven’t evolved to eat high carbohydrate and high sugar content food stuffs.
Imagine you have a recipe. It has ingredients, cooking conditions and time. If you change that recipe in any way you won’t get the right quality product at the end of the process. We also have a recipe. You need ingredients which are essential vitamins and minerals and an adequate fuel source to be able to function. You also need conditions such as daylight and exercise. And you need time which is sleep.
The chances are your recipe is low on ingredients, doesn’t have the right cooking conditions and nowhere near enough time. Unless we have food, water, oxygen and sleep we can’t function properly because our basic physiological needs haven’t been met. So as an athlete do you expect to be able to perform at your best without creating the right conditions?
With everyone I work with in the mental performance field I always begin with the Big 3: How are you sleeping? What are you eating? Are you exercising? Most people with low mood or subject to bouts of anxiety or mental blocks or performance problems aren’t sleeping enough, aren’t eating well and get very little exercise. In fact, they are going against 2.5 million years of evolution
Time to eat, sleep, cheer, repeat.