Team Sports Strength and Conditioning

basketball small group training

Calling all Football, Cheerleading, Soccer, Basketball athletes (and more!)! Take your team to the next level and help prevent injuries with team sports strength and conditioning training at Salus in Middletown, NJ.

What is Team Sports Strength and Conditioning

At Salus, we work directly with sports teams throughout Monmouth County, New Jersey to bring athletes together for a private strength and conditioning class built just for their team. Our coaching staff has worked with athletes involved in gymnastics, soccer, football, cheerleading, dance, softball, baseball, hockey, lacrosse and more.

Athletes have consistently found that training at CrossFit Salus improves their strength, power, speed, coordination, and endurance for their sport. We also focus on building strong team spirit with players working alongside each other and encourage team motivation and sportsmanship.

A team sports strength and conditioning program can benefit all athletes, both male and female. The benefits are numerous: it can help reduce the incidence of injury, reduce burnout, improve performance and improve team bonding!

Prevent Injury

Youth athletes often experience many changes in life and in sport through their growth and development process. While early sport specialization has trended towards becoming prevalent in the youth athlete, it is vital to expose individuals to a variety of movements to help them become a well rounded athlete.

This can also help to prevent injuries due to overtraining and overcompensation.

This is why youth athletes need to work regularly with a qualified strength and conditioning coach to ensure these potential injuries don’t become an issue.

Some studies find that kids who specialize in a chosen sport tend to engage in higher levels of vigorous exercise than their peers and may be more likely to sustain injuries, such as stress fractures, tendinitis and ACL tears.

This study, published in the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine, helps to explain some of the dangers of sports specialization. “Athletes who focus on one particular sport tend to practice more frequently and intensely compared to athletes who do not.”

The recommendation?

Replace some of their sport-specific training with different forms of exercise, such as conditioning.

A common fear among parents is that if their children don’t play more and more, they’ll fall behind in their sport and won’t ultimately be as good of an athlete. The study says, “But it may actually be the opposite. If children do too much, they may get injured and fall behind.”

Strengthen Your Athletic Performance and Gain the Winning Advantage

Working with a professional coach who specializes in strength and conditioning for athletes is important not only to help prevent injuries, but also to improve athletic performance. Resistance training, stability, coordination, movement efficiency and mobility can have a big impact for a young athlete.

By working with professionals, athletes can improve their speed, agility, quickness, conditioning and range of motion. With a well-designed strength and conditioning program, athletes will see what their body is capable of and what they can accomplish, enhancing a sense of self-confidence and body image. This advantage not only helps them in their sport, but in all avenues of life.

Plus, we know how to make exercise fun! They’re still kids after all, exercise should have an element of fun and not feel like a chore. Our coaches like to mix things up to help athletes prevent physical and mental burnout.

Schedule Your Small Group Strength and Conditioning Series for your Team Sports

At Salus, we offer Kids and Teens Fitness classes throughout the week that athletes can join at any time.

If you are interested in keeping your group together, Private Team sports strength and conditioning sessions are one hour dedicated entirely to that team’s specific training. Cycles last anywhere from four to twelve weeks depending on the team’s needs. Our coaches can work with you to find the best days and times to meet your players’ needs.

*From elementary to high school and travel teams, various ages are welcome (typically ages 9 and up).

Contact Coach Angela at info@salusnj.com for more information or to receive Team pricing.

Choosing a Jump Rope

jump rope

When it comes to choosing a jump rope, you don’t have to spend a fortune. Here are a few of our favorites and some quick tips to consider about jump rope length, weight and maintenance.

Choosing a Jump Rope Brand

Here are our top three picks for jump ropes:

-RX Jump Ropes

The RX jump rope offers many options based on your height and skill ability with the jump rope.

-Rogue Jump Rope

The Rogue ropes are an inexpensive fixed length rope, with a nice moderate light cable that is flexible and doesn’t kink.

-One Fit Wonder

The One Fit Wonder jump ropes have nice long handles and a smooth spin for awesome control. The length is also adjustable by hand (no need for a screwdriver or allen key). Plus at $10, they’re an affordable option.

Jump Rope Weight

Unsure what weight to start with when choosing a jump rope?

  • The heavier the rope, the more you’ll feel it, which is good for beginners (can also be good for advanced athletes looking to increase intensity).
  • Move to lighter weight ropes to produce faster cycle rates. Lightweight ropes are good for athlete who are proficient at double unders.

Jump Rope Length

There are few factors to consider when finding your optimal length. These include your turning mechanics (the angle of your arms, where you hold your hands), the length of your arms, and the length of your handles. Here are a few guidelines to get started:

  1. Stand in the middle of the rope with two feet.
  2. Pull the handles straight up and make sure the rope is pulled taut.
  3. The handles should be reach directly under your armpits.

If the handles extend beyond your shoulders, the rope should to be shortened.
When jumping, the rope/cable should clear approximately 6″ to 10″ over your head at its apex. If it’s too long, it will be sloppy and take too much effort to turn.
When in doubt, it’s better to buy a rope that’s too long rather than too short, then adjust it from there.

Here’s a general equation to get you started:

Your Height + 3 ft. (92cm) = Rope Length

Taking Care of Your Jump Rope

Once you find a rope that you feel comfortable with, you’ll want to take care of it.

  • Don’t jump outside on concrete; it will chew up your rope.
  • Keep the knots and kinks out of your rope; adjust them at the handles instead.
  • To transport it, roll it up loosely like a garden hose and put it in a bag to keep the tangles out.

Need more help choosing a jump rope? Let’s chat!
Chat with us at class or shoot us a message at info@salusnj.com.

3 Reasons to Try CrossFit for Kids and Teens

CrossFit Kids Teens

What is CrossFit Kids and Teens

CrossFit Kids and Teens is a physical activity program specifically designed to make health and fitness fun for kids of all ages! Fighting against the constant struggles of tech temptations and health consequences of a sedentary lifestyle, our programs offer a safe and fun environment for kids to learn to love fitness.

At Salus, we teach them to work hard so they can play hard: run faster, be stronger for sports and enjoy new activities.

CrossFit Kids, PreTeens & Teens classes consist of constantly varied workouts with functional movements to deliver fitness that is “broad, inclusive, general, and scalable” for any child at any level.

What’s this all mean?

These programs are designed for their age – not adults. We focus on developing overall athleticism and proper movement mechanics to help children become well-rounded athletes. Workouts can be made easier or harder to tailor to the level of each child ensuring each participant is challenged just enough to deliver measurable results and safe progress.

While we focus on specific skill movements each month, no two workouts will be the same (for the most part). That way, kids and teens won’t get bored and the novelty will keep them excited about participating.

Our youngest athletes, 5-8 year old, are encouraged to stay active in a fun, light-hearted environment with plenty of exercises disguised as games. As they grow with CrossFit Kids, into PreTeens (8-12) and up to Teens (12+), they’ll discover their self-confidence while developing body awareness and coordination. We teach functional movements that are fundamental to all things kids do when they play or participate in organized sports such as running, throwing, pulling, pushing, climbing, lifting and jumping…just to name a few.

And the benefits are numerous. Here are three.

Stronger, Faster, Smarter: Benefits of CrossFit Kids

1. Build a Solid Base

Kids and Teens are like little sponges. When they are exposed to good habits and consistency in form for fitness at an early age, it helps them build a healthy base for the rest of their lives. Studies show that active kids generally grow up to be active.

With proper instruction and emphasis on supporting good movement patterns, children can participate in activity without worrying about injuries.

2. Support Confidence

CrossFit classes can help develop kids and teens on an emotional level. With focus on sportsmanship, teamwork, following direction, self-discipline and honesty, we aim to set kids up for success later in life. Promoting camaraderie and discipline, CrossFit provides a safe emotional release for kids who are rapidly changing every day.

Also, as kids progress, they will experience a noticeable difference in their confidence levels resulting in a boost in overall self-esteem on the field and in school.

Which leads us to…

3. Improve School Performance

Sure, CrossFit Kids and Teens is a great place to get fit, make new friends and learn important social skills, but it can also help their minds get sharper, too!
A British Medical Journal study showed that the more active children are at age eleven, the better they performed in exams (English, math and science) in the following years up to age sixteen. The researchers found a significant link between physical activity and academic performance: “Studies have revealed relationships between PA [physical activity] and relevant cognitive outcomes such as measures of executive function, as well as studies suggesting that PA might increase time ‘on task’ in class and reduce classroom ‘problem behavior.”

Check out our CrossFit Kids mention in the New York Times: High-Fives, Not High Reps

CrossFit Salus Kids and Teens

At CrossFit Salus in Middletown, NJ, all of our CrossFit Kids and Teens classes are taught safely and effectively under the close supervision of a thoroughly trained CrossFit Kids Trainer. The ultimate goal of of our CrossFit Kids and Teens program at CrossFit Salus is to help kids develop a lifelong love for fitness.

“Nobody has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for anyone to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which their body is capable” Socrates

CrossFit Kids programs can be found in over 1,800 gyms and more than 1,000 schools worldwide. CrossFit Salus is the only CrossFit Kids Affiliate in Middletown, NJ.

We invite you to encourage your children to try new things, meet new friends at CrossFit Salus. Find out more about our CrossFit Kids and Teens program and feel free to contact us at info@salusnj.com with any questions.

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Check out some more of our CrossFit Kids & Teens posts:

Family Fitness Middletown NJ

family fitness middletown nj

We are excited to announce our fifth Salus Family Fitness Day series coming this fall.

Fit Fam! Family Fitness Series

This specialty family fitness class is specifically designed for children ages 7 and up and their parent to participate in a great workout together! Full-body workouts will incorporate cardiovascular exercise, functional fitness and light weight training. Participants should wear athletic clothing & sneakers, bring water, expect to sweat… and have a blast!

Our CrossFit Salus Kids & Teens Coaches  know how to make exercise fun and are excited to share their love of fitness with the Middletown, NJ community.

Space is limited and reservation is required. Please contact angela@salusnj.com.

Who

Children age 7-12 are welcome to attend with their parent. Whether you’re new or experienced, our aim is to introduce participants to new skills and spark their interest in fitness!

You do not have to be a member at Salus to participate. So invite your neighbors and lets show everyone what a great community we have here at CrossFit Salus!

When

3-class series starts in September 2022.

Sunday, September 11, 18, 25

Registration

Registration for the 3-class series is $75 and includes one child + one parent.

Space is limited. Contact angela@salusnj.com if you are interested in participating.

CrossFit Salus Kids At Home Workouts Summer

crossfit kids games

CrossFit Salus Kids At Home Workouts Summer

Theme

Integrity: Do the right thing (even when no one is watching)

Skills

Squat, Perfect Pushup, Jump Rope

CrossFit Kids WOD

Warm Up: Run around the cones and FREEZE when the music stops to do exercise (plank, sit up, perfect pushup, squat)!

“Jack in the box” Squats: Squat slowly down, hold down and then “spring!” out, standing up strong.

WOD: AMRAP in 6 minutes

3 squats at door
crab walk to cone (half way)
3 tuck jumps at cone
bear crawl to wall
run back to door

Learn How to Take Your Heart Rate

Let’s learn how to measure your HEART RATE.

A person’s heart rate (pulse), is the number of times the heart beats per minute. The heart is a special muscle because of what it does for us. The heart sends blood throughout our body. That blood provides our body with important oxygen and nutrients… it also carries away waste.

To find your pulse in your neck, place two fingers on your Adam’s apple in your throat (that’s the part that sticks out and moves when you swallow). Gently feel to the side of it, and you will find your pulse.

Count the number of beats (pulses) for 15 seconds.. Take that number and multiply it by 4 to find your heartrate in beats per minute. For example, if you count 25 beats (25 x 4 = 100 beats per minute.)

Take your pulse before you start (best if done first thing in the morning)- this is your ‘resting heart rate’. Record your heart rate again after exercise and note the difference.

Did you Know? A child’s heart typically beats faster than an adult’s.

CrossFit Kids WOD at Home

AMRAP in 7 minutes

5 perfect squats
burpee broad jump (about the length of your driveway)
5 tuck jumps at one end
bear crawl to other end
5 perfect pushups
run down driveway and back

*repeat

CrossFit Kids Game

Sponge Bucket Relay

Divide kids into two teams (adults can play, too!)

Place cones 50 feet apart.

At the starting cone, place two buckets filled with water, each with a sponge, and place two empty buckets at the other side.

On trainer “3-2-1 GO” the first child in line dunks the sponge into the water and then runs the sponge to the other side, squeezes water out of the sponge into the empty bucket and runs back to the starting line.

While the teammates are waiting, they must be doing jumping jacks or squats. The team with the most water in their bucket when time is called wins.

Challenge

Jump Rope in :45 seconds

How many successful skips can you do in :45 seconds?

 

Self Defense Series

We are excited to announce our upcoming Self Defense Series with Sensei Benny Gonzalez. Join us for a 6-week series on Mondays at 4pm starting May 16.

You have the strength, learn how to use it in the beautiful art form of karate and self defense.

Self Defense

This specialty self defense workshop is specifically designed for adults and kids ages eight and over. Sensei Benny creates practical drills that kids can remember and use to protect themselves in situations such as bullying and opposition from larger aggressors.

From elementary students to high school students to adults, Sensei Benny has the self defense fundamentals that everyone should know.

  • Learn self-confidence, problem solving and situational awareness.
  • Learn how to reduce your risk and walk away with basic life-saving drills.

Who

Adults and kids/teens (ages 8 and over) are welcome to attend.

You do not have to be a member to participate.

When

Mondays at 4pm

May 16, May 23, June 6, June 13, June 20, June 27

Cost

Cost for the series is only $20.

What to Wear

Attendees should wear all white or all black comfortable attire. These classes will be taught in a traditional karate style.

Reservations

Reservations are required and open now at https://forms.gle/bNoF23dJx9n84Nn16.

If you’re not a member, please contact angela@salusnj.com so we can forward you the waiver in advance.

Space is limited. Reserve now.

About Sensei Benny Gonzalez

Benny started karate 36 years ago after she was mugged in an elevator and felt helpless by the ordeal. She is currently a sensei, which is 4th degree black belt, studying Josan Lu Karate under Shuseki Shihan Sana in Garwood, NJ.

In addition to teaching karate whenever possible, she also teaches self defense regularly.

I think it is important for everyone, especially women and children, to be more assertive in certain situations. My motto is “it is better to know it and not need it, then need it and not know it.”

Benny has been a member at Salus for about 5 years and also attends with her husband and son as well. We think she’s pretty amazing!

I would love to add that Salus is the perfect complement to my karate. Since I started CrossFit, my upper body and kicks are stronger. I also have more energy which is something I thought at my age would not happen. I am thankful for the opportunity to give something back to this wonderful community and would like to thank my inspirational teachers.

Nutrition for Teens

Tired of trying to get your teens to eat healthy? Whether your child is a competitive athlete, recreational athlete, student (or all of the above), nutrition for teens can be tricky.

Nutrition for Teens: Fueling Your Young Athlete

From sidelining sugar to sleeping for strength, nutrition and lifestyle factors play a huge role in improving athletic performance. Being the best athlete isn’t just about how much you train in the gym or on the field. Your young athlete, whether they are competitive or recreational, will have an edge over their competition if they eat, drink and recover the right way.

At Salus Nutrition, our focus is on education and prioritizing real food (while acknowledging that hey – they’re kids and might want a treat here and there). Keeping nutrition for teens as natural as possible is key, but balance is also important. Of course, homemade foods are always preferred to packaged foods, but we know convenient foods are going to happen. So, we’ll help your teen navigate through the maze to choose their best options for fueling their bodies.

Choosing the right, quality foods is only half of the battle. Knowing what to eat, how much to eat and when to eat it also plays a role. Game day nutrition matters, but it’s what they eat every day leading up to game day that matters most.

Carbohydrates, proteins, fats all work together like a team. Those macronutrients are essential, along with their teammates: vitamins, minerals, fiber and water. It’s important for your teens to get in the habit of reading nutrition labels and recognize ingredients worthy of putting in their bodies.

Give Teens the Direction the Need to Reach Their Goals

At Salus Nutrition for Teens, we take into account their goals, interests, personal preferences, likes and dislikes, hobbies and history to create an individualized action plan. From the winning pre-game meal to the rebuilding recovery meal, we’ll help them recognize smart choices, read nutrition labels and figure out how to choose the right foods for their game plan.

Your teen will meet on a regular basis with Coach Angela (also via text, email or phone) to review progress and encourage small, gradual changes week-by-week. Rather than focus on calorie counting, Coach Angela will help them understand food choices and healthy, sustainable habits for life.

Take the stress out of trying to get your teen to understand how to eat. By reviewing progress, listening to their challenges, and celebrating wins along the way, Coach Angela will work with your teen to come up with an actionable plan for improving and maintaining healthy habits to reach their goals.

Find out more by about our coaching services at www.salusnj.com/nutrition or by contacting Coach Angela at nutrition@salusnj.com.

Resources

Healthy Snacks for Kids (and Adults). We Call them “Mini-Meals”

Hydration for Young Athletes

Flexibility for Young Athletes

How much sleep do you really need?

Looking for Healthy Alternative to Your Favorite Recipes?

Check out these healthy meal makeovers that taste good, too at https://salusnj.com/faq/where-can-i-find-approved-recipes/ 

 

Brady & JT, Teen Athletes of the Month September 2021

athletes of the month middletown nj

Meet Brady & JT. They both started in our CrossFit Kids class back in 2018, and have now advanced to our CrossFit Teens class and are absolutely killing it!

These boys have become such well-rounded athletes and have experienced the benefits beyond the box. Brady shares, “It has made me more mentally focused.” And when asked about what keeps him motivated to continue, JT said, “Staying healthy and getting to workout with friends.”

We couldn’t agree more! Working out with friends is definitely much more motivating!

Congratulations to these strong teens: Brady & JT.


Please meet the September 2021 Athletes of the Month: Brady & JT

1. When and why did you start at Salus?

Brady– I started at Salus in June of 2018. I wanted a new workout experience.

JT– I started at Salus in 2018. I wasn’t interested in typical sports so my mom thought I should try CrossFit to get exercise.

2. How has your performance changed since you started at Salus?

Brady– When I started CrossFit I could barely lift 25 pounds. Now I can lift 25 pounds and even heavier weights.

JT– I have gotten much better at doing all of the exercises.

3. Are there exercises you can do now that you couldn’t do before?

Brady– I could not do deadlifts when I started and now I can lift my body weight.

4. How have you changed since you started?

Brady– I have become a lot stronger and have more endurance.  And, it has made me more mentally focused.

JT– I have gotten stronger. It’s made me healthier by having exercise as a regular part of my week.

5. How do you describe Salus to your friends?

Brady– A place where you can put your strength to the test and you will be cheered on.

JT– It helps you to get better and stronger at certain exercises.

6. What keeps you motivated to continue?

Brady– The thing that keeps me motivated is I want to get stronger every day.

JT– Staying healthy and getting to workout with friends.

7. Favorite exercise or WOD?

Brady– Deadlifts

JT– Murphy

8. What advice would you give to a newbie just joining Salus?

Brady– I would tell them to take it slow.

JT– It gets easier the more you do it.

9. What is your next goal to accomplish?

Brady– 15 minute AMRAP:  15 kettle bell swings; 10 deadlifts; 200 m row.

JT– Double unders

10. Favorite healthy dish….and favorite “splurge” meal?

Brady– Healthy dish is fruit salad and splurge meal is tacos!

JT– Meatballs and pizza

11. Favorite thing to do for fun?

Brady– Play my Xbox with my friends.

JT– Video games

12. If you could be a superhero/animal who/what would you be and why?

Brady– I would be Iron Man because he is not only strong but very smart.

JT– I would be a lion because they are strong.

13. Favorite motivational/Inspirational quote?

Brady– “Push yourself because no one else is going to do it for you.”

14. Interesting fact not many people know about you.

BradyI love playing tennis.

JT– I have a big family with 20 cousins and I collect retro video games.

Traveling to a New CrossFit Box? CrossFit Drop in Etiquette: What You Need to Know Before You Go.

Traveling to a new box? Check out these five CrossFit drop in etiquette reminders to help you be the best guest and have the best experience.

Whether you’re traveling for a business trip across the country or for an exotic vacation across the equator, it can be exciting to try out a new CrossFit box so you don’t miss out on your workout. Thankfully, one of the great things about CrossFit is the community, so you’re in luck.

But, make sure you scope out their rules first. Remember, CrossFit is an affiliate, not a franchise…so each box has their own guidelines for dropping in (programming, prices, etc.).

These five CrossFit drop in etiquette reminders will help you be prepared before you go…and be a good guest.

CrossFit Drop In Etiquette: What You Need to Know Before You Go.

1. Searching for a “Drop-In CrossFit Near Me”

Do your homework before you take off. Your best bet is to start by searching the CrossFit Affiliate Map or the “Wodifind” feature within your Wodify app. Once you find a couple CrossFit boxes near where you’ll be staying, Google them. Read their reviews and scope out their social media pages to get a feel for their vibe.

2. Consider Their CrossFit Drop-In Fee

Every box is different, so be sure to check their website for details.

Some boxes require you to have your home affiliate email them to confirm that you’ve completed their fundamentals class.
Some have particular classes for drop-ins (you’ll usually find this in vacation spots), others allow drop-ins for any class. Don’t expect to just show up and have free-reign of their gym.
Some boxes require you to book your spot in class and pay ahead of time online, others will discount the drop-in fee if you buy a t-shirt. Either way, expect to pay – as a traveling guest, you’re a “drop-in,” not a “free-trial.”

Always email or call them ahead of time to get the scoop on their policies, especially if you’re traveling over a holiday.

3. Allow Enough Time

Early is On Time, On Time is Late, and Late is Unacceptable.

Allow enough time to fill out your waiver, pay for your drop-in and hey, you’ve been traveling…you’ll probably need to mobilize. Take a minute to introduce yourself to the coach and a few members, familiarize yourself with the gym and scope out their t-shirts! You can never have enough CrossFit swag, am I right?

Nothing is worse than having a new face show up in the middle of a warm up and trying to get them situated while keeping the rest of the class going.

4. Know Your Abilities

Whether you’re an elite athlete or fresh out of fundamentals, you’re a newbie to them. Know your own abilities and limitations…and remember to leave your ego at the door. Now’s not the time to attempt your first RX workout if it’s way beyond your abilities.

And if you’re nursing an injury, be sure to inform the coach ahead of time (you know, when you arrive early).

5. Leave on a Good Note

Remember the universal rule, no matter where you go: be a good guest & clean up after yourself. Put away your equipment, disinfect your things and hey, if you spilled some chalk, clean that up, too.

Visiting other CrossFit boxes is a lot of fun. So, don’t be afraid to snap a selfie and take a moment to drop them a review on their Facebook or Google page. Reviews are extremely valuable to a small business.

Save travels!

Dropping in at CrossFit Salus, Middletown NJ?

Traveling to the Middletown, New Jersey area? We’d love to have you!

We offer drop-in options all of our for our CrossFit, Weightlifting, CrossFit Kids and CrossFit Teens classes! Just shoot us an email at info@salusnj.com before you come so we can get you set up.

We’re located at 1706 State Highway 35 in Middletown, NJ (Located in the Fountain Ridge Plaza). We’re soon moving to 1680 (same plaza).

Schedule Your Drop In Here >>

How to Create a Bedtime Routine

Do you have a bedtime routine? Do your kids?

You both should! Here’s why.

Sleep does so much more than prevent us from feeling tired. When we sleep, we heal and repair our bodies. Get enough and you could experience an improvement in learning and memory (bonus for school!). Research also shows that getting enough sleep helps with feelings of anxiety and depression, and is associated with maintaining a healthy weight.

Check out these bedtime routine ideas and sleep solutions to help you get the best sleep your body needs!

Why Is a Bedtime Routine Important?

Sleep is an extremely important part of our overall well-being and health. If we don’t get enough, it may not be noticeable right away (although often it is), but the repercussions can add up.

Lack of a good night’s sleep can have immediate effects on our mood, motivation, focus, energy and strength the next day. This can affect our state at work, school, in our workouts and how we react at home.  A lack of sleep over many nights can have long-term effects on our health, too. From high blood pressure and obesity to psychiatric problems, including depression and other mood disorders, research shows that the risks of sleep deprivation are severe.

Read: Sleeping Tips for Athletes >>

Create a Bedtime Routine (That Works!)

Create a 5 minute (or more) routine that helps transition from day to night. This will prepare them for a good night’s sleep (and even better day tomorrow.

This routine should be separate from a typical “getting ready for bed” task like brushing your teeth or washing your face.

The routine can take any form you want, as long as it works for you. Think of physical habits (like stretching), mental habits (like journaling or reading), spiritual habits (like meditation or prayer).

Practice a Good Bedtime Routine to Sleep Sounder

Believe it or not, getting good sleep takes practice. And guess what? It all starts before you even close your eyes.

One of the best places to start practicing at getting good sleep is by creating your optimal sleep environment.

This includes both your physical space and mental state.

Follow these simple ABCs of Better Zzzzs to start sleeping better tonight.

Clear the clutter.

Turn your attention away from the endless to-dos, stressful sights and clutter of the day by clearing your space and mind. This practice can go a long way toward ensuring you are prepared to successfully get enough Zzzzs.

Research even shows that if notice that your bedroom is full of stuff when you head to bed, your brain thinks, “It’s time to ignore the clutter (or fix it),” which takes mental (or physical) effort. And working from home has only made matters worse as many people are working in their bedroom.

To restore order, get rid of the clutter. For example, get the unfolded laundry out of your bedroom, write down your to-dos so you can attend to them in the morning, straighten up your workspace at the end of the workday, etc. This practice tells your brain that your sleeping space is peaceful.

Turn it off.

If falling asleep is difficult for you or your child, consider setting a curfew on all your devices. The artificial “blue” light that is emitted by electronic screens can trigger our body to produce more daytime hormones (like cortisol) and disrupt our body’s natural preparation to sleep.

Instead, spend the last hour or two before bed reading a physical book or magazine (a real one with actual pages — not an e-book). This can also help you mentally wind down for the night, instead of getting fired up by your social media feed or disturbing news.

Keep it cool.

According to sleep.org, the temperature has to be just right for an ideal night’s sleep. In general, the suggested bedroom temperature should be between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal sleep conditions.

Improve ventilation.

A stuffy space can hike nasal congestion and hinder your ability to breathe easily while you sleep. Studies even show that those who keep their windows open overnight feel more alert the next morning. But if you suffer from seasonal allergies, it might help to invest in a room purifier alternatively.

Diffuse oils.

Create a bedtime routine that involves diffusing essential oils 30 minutes before bed. Certain scents encourage drowsiness and can signal your brain that it’s time to start shutting off. Try a few drops of lavender, frankincense, cedarwood and bergamot.

Keep it consistent.

What time you get out of bed is an important factor for a good sleep routine. If you sleep in, past your usual time, it messes with our circadian rhythms. You’ll inevitably be less tired at night and have trouble falling asleep. No matter what time you go to bed, try to get up within an hour of your usual wake time.

Fun fact: Did you know that 7:30am is the latest wakeup time you need in order to maximize your physical activity during the day? According to the National Sleep Foundation, every hour you sleep in after that, research shows a significant drop in daily movement.

Exercise

Science shows that exercise helps to increase the total amount of sleep we get, especially in that slow-wave restorative REM phase. During exercise, our core body temperature rises, which helps to decrease body temps at night. REM is associated with decreased core body temps, so you can see how exercise can help gear you up for a good night of sleep.

In fact, the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity did a new analysis of studies on sleep and exercise. They found that those who strength train actually fall asleep faster and wake up less frequently throughout the night. Too stressed to fall asleep? Stretching before bed also helps when stress is preventing you from falling asleep.

You move, you snooze.

Choose the foods that help you snooze.

What you eat and how you sleep are directly linked. Yup, research shows that your gut health impacts your sleep quality. Probiotics in foods like yogurt and fermented veggie, can improve sleep quality. Also, prebiotics (which our gut bugs need to thrive) in foods like onions and artichokes, also protects us from stress.

The less you stress, the sounder you’ll sleep.

And, it goes both ways. The sounder you sleep, the better and more diverse your gut microbiome is.

Your sleep quality can also impact your food choices the next day. Interestingly, a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that participants who slept fewer than five and a half hours per night ate 385 more calories the next day. That’s another meal for many people – equivalent to guzzling two and a half cans of soda, a few Twinkies or a couple slices of pizza.

Another interesting note in the study: the sleep-deprived individuals chose different kinds of foods the next day compared to the well-rested subjects. The sleep deprived folks skimped on clean foods like protein and instead ate empty calorie foods like soda, candy, and pizza!

Why does this happen? Fatigue often leads people to seek out foods that offer quick bursts of energy or increased alertness: sugar and junk.

Get the right amount of sleep, your body will thank you for it.

Create Your Own Bedtime Routine

Take time for yourself and create your own bedtime routine. Consider that the time preparing for sleep is just as important as the time spent warming up for your workout. It puts you in the right mental and physical state to do the best job possible at what’s happening next: sleep.

Do you have a child or family member who struggles with sleep? Talk to your them about their ideas, and make a change together.  The more involved they are in the process, the more likely they’ll stick to it and establish some healthy sleep habits.

Read: Changing Habits >>