As a well-known advocate of an afternoon nap and an early night I know how important sleep is when it comes to progressing in your training. In fact sleep is probably the most under used and under rated aid in trying to achieve your lean and strong physique. You will never hear anyone talk about its importance as they would rather focus on some ridiculous fad exercise regime that they have just stumbled across in a fitness magazine. Don’t believe me? Then read on...
The benefits of getting adequate sleep:
-When we sleep are bodies produce growth hormone. Growth hormone helps with muscle growth as well as the regulation of our metabolism.
-Sleep deprivation can lead to inflammation. This can lead to various problems such as increasing cortisol levels and reducing insulin sensitivity. Both of which are not something that you want if you are trying to build lean tissue or lean down.
-A lack of sleep can also make you hungrier. This is because it can lead to an increase in ghrelin production and a decrease in leptin production. Both of these hormones help to regulate your appetite.
-If you are tired you are more likely to have less energy to really push during your workouts and resort to sugary foods to try and get some quick energy.
Top tips on how to improve your sleep
Now I know in this day and age it can be particularly difficult to fit in adequate ZZZ’s so try some of my tips below:
-Try to avoid too much caffeine- especially later on in the day.
-Try to pick a regular bedtime, even if just through the weekdays. This habit will make it easier to fall asleep at night.
-Try to avoid using too many electronics before bed as these can lead to a decrease in melatonin.
-Make sure you are not too warm as this can have an effect on hormones and can make you uncomfortable, which can lead to a disturbed sleep.
-Sleep in the dark- your brain can sense light exposure even when you are asleep so try and block out any unnecessary light.
- Although not for everyone, I have experimented with carb back loading whilst prepping and found it greatly improved my sleep. Carb back loading is where you take in a higher portion of your carbs before bed. This can help to reduce cortisol because the carbs helps to trigger an insulin release prior to bed.
-Training mid-afternoon. Although this is hard for many, if you train really late at night it can effect sleep as training increases cortisol.
Now there is so much more detail to go into here on the benefits of sleep and tips on how to improve it but it can become overwhelming. The best advice I could give is to try and simply get into a regular routine during the week as the power of habit is a wonderful thing.
And remember It’s not just the hour you train that’s important, it’s the recovery outside of the gym that makes the difference.
Get napping everyone!