So we talked about sleep and why it directly links to your results in the gym. We broke it down into hormone functions, diet, performance, metabolism, etc.
There was a lot to take in with why not getting the correct amount of sleep can crucially hinder your weight loss or muscle gain results, which is why I decided to make a part two.
Now I would like to discuss tactical way you can achieve more sleep and better sleep on a consistent basis. Like I said, I broke down why it matters but didn’t have the time or space to help solve the problem completely.
First and foremost, you must be willing to make a solid effort in getting more sleep. If you truly want to get the results you work so hard for in the gym, then you should be willing to sacrifice time and activities for sleep. Sometimes you will need to say no to going out, or you will need to shut the TV or computer off so that you can get a full nights rest. People usually do not make the effort because they think they can sacrifice “just one more night of sleep”, to go see the movie premier or stay up late online, but in reality you’re hurting yourself more and more each time.
So its time to buckle down on yourself and get to bed at an earlier hour, remember that every hour before midnight counts as 2 hours of sleep to your body. That is not a joke by the way, completely serious. So do your best to get in bed before midnight.
Now, lets talk about ways to get that good sleep we need.
–Time to black-out the room! This is going to be a big one for most people, because everyone likes to fall asleep with the TV on. I’ll be honest I was one of those people who literally did so every single night, until I did some studying. It turns out that this can literally trick your mind into thinking its daytime, and even though you may be tired your body will try to keep you awake, because it thinks its day. Along with tricking your mind, it can disturb your production cycle of melatonin. This happens because lights will hinder the production, we want lights off to keep producing the melatonin, which helps us fall asleep. The most ideal way to prevent this is to have ground lamps if possible, when lights are below the midline of the room it can help your mind and body think that it is sundown. This will tell your body its time to sleep and you will be able to fall asleep faster and better. If you can get lights to a low-level 1-2 hours before bed, you will benefit most. Also if you are going to watch TV 1-2 hours before bed, try to be looking down at the screen rather than a mounted TV.
–The key with this is simple, yet slightly tricky. You don’t want to go to sleep hungry, simply because this can keep you up or delay your sleep. But this can also affect the type of sleep you get, your body sleeps better when it has the fuel and nutrients it actually needs during sleeping hours. But you also do not want to eat too before bed or too soon before bed. This can lead to bad digestion and/or upset stomach during sleep, which will also delay and affect your quality of sleep.
–Have a scheduled time to go to sleep and wake up, this will cause a sleeping pattern. Whenever your body gets used to a specific sleeping pattern it will naturally fall asleep easier. Now if you tell yourself 9PM is your bedtime and your starting that schedule tonight, your body won’t recognize it after that one night. So you will need to consistently go to bed by 9PM for a while before it creates a pattern. If you would like to be in bed by 9PM every night but usually hit the sack at 1AM, start by slowly lowering your bedtime. Do this by 15-30min per night until you’re at your desired bedtime, this will help you get to your goal without tossing and turning every night.
Exercise Yourself to Sleep
–Now if you know me at all, you know this one was going to come up! Along with exercising you must be eating a clean diet. The combination of the two is what really helps your body rest and recover, which is technically what sleep is for. During exercise your release a lot of hormones and endorphins, this factor alone will help your body achieve a deeper and more meaningful sleep. Exercise is literally putting stress on your body and breaking down muscle fibers [sounds kind of bad, but it’s actually good!]. Your body needs to recover after doing so, that’s why sleep is so important and your body knows this. Studies have been done to show that people, who exercise on a regular and consistent basis, get much deeper sleep than those who do not.
Get Rid of Stress
–Last but definitely not least, stress. This one can be a killer and is usually what gets people waking up over and over throughout the night. Now getting rid of stress will not only help you get better and more sleep, but it leads to a better lifestyle and it’s incredibly important to achieve less stress [check out my article on stress for more on how]. My first tip with this is to keep a notepad on your nightstand to write your thoughts. This way before you go to bed you can write out your next day, your feelings, what’s worrying you, etc. Anything and everything that will keep you up at night should be written out so it’s out of your head before bed. Work on your breathing before you fall asleep. Not only will concentrating on the breathing in general help you crash, but also it will put you in a better breathing pattern, which will lead to better sleep quality. Lie on your back and take big breaths into your lower belly, and exhale through your nose. You can also try progressive muscle relaxation before falling asleep. This is essentially just tightening or contracting muscles a tightly as you can briefly and then relaxing directly after. Start at your toes and work your way up.
This can be a lot to take in just to sleep better, and I understand that [which is also why I split it into 2 parts]. But the truth is that sleep is more important than 90% of people realize and it could very well be the reason why you’re not getting your results.
So take my advice and my tips, learn from it and apply it into your fit lifestyle.
[Be sure to check out Part 1 to this article if you haven’t, HERE]