Importance of Sleep
As you know, humans need to sleep. Sleep is our way of recovering from any type of damage the body has taken, integrating things we learned, getting rid of old tissue, and even digestion to an extent. Needless to say, it plays a very big role in our lives.
That also goes to show that it’s important. Now, sleep is something that many have put on the backburner because they have things to get done. We are a busy society and the time we have awake never seems like enough. Well, as much as we feel that we are gaining something by not sleeping, we are actually setting the stage for much larger problems down the road.
Without proper sleep you may see things such as a lack of cognition, increased mortality rate, higher rates of injury, and even symptoms of depression and anxiety. It can turn into a mess very quickly without sleep. We have to rest, and this period is crucial to our well-being.
Not to mention, that sleep is one of the most effective ways to build muscle and burn fat. While you sleep, your body is repairing all of the damage that you did in the gym. If you break those muscle fibers down and never allow them to heal during sleep, then you will be missing out on a ton of gains. This is also when the body is producing the most growth hormone, which directly affects the amount of muscle mass you will have! Skipping out on sleep may be the reason you are getting stuck in the gym!
Sleep is obviously important. However, what goes into it and how can you most effectively use sleep?
This is something that actually gets debated quite a lot. For the most part, you will hear that you need at least 8 hours of sleep to properly function and recover. This is true. This is the best range for the majority of people. Any less than this, and some form of trouble can be seen. It may be as simple as some brain fog, or it could mean trouble with overall health. Either way, 8 hours is always a good rule of thumb.
There are, however, some special outliers who can get by with less than this. There is actually a gene that is present in some that allows them to function perfectly fine off of less sleep. Now, this is rate, so don’t just assume that it’s you. This just goes to show that there are special cases.
There is also the question of, can you get too much sleep? This is up for debate, but if you get an excessive amount of sleep you may actually wake feeling groggy and more tired than before. Usually if this is happening, then there could be some other underlying issues such as depression or chronic fatigue.
Now, just because you get enough sleep timewise, does not mean that you are sleeping well. More will be explained in the next section…
You can get all of the hours of sleep in the world and it will mean nothing if it is of poor quality. Have you ever woken up and still been tired? This more than likely means that you haven’t had a good night’s sleep.
There are multiple phases of sleep. As you rest, your brain goes through this cycle over and over again. Typically, each full cycle will last about an hour and a half. If this cycle is interrupted and not allowed to take its full course, then you will see the effects. This can lead to brain fog, grogginess, and even a level of tiredness after hours of sleep.
In the book, Sleep, by Nick Littlehales, he discusses that this interruption of sleep is worse than not getting enough sleep. You would be better off with high quality sleep cycles, that lasted a shorter period of time; versus a long time with less than ideal quality.
So how do you make sure that you have quality sleep?
There are a few things you can do that follow what is called sleep hygiene.
First, you need to make sure that you are not in front of any blue screens before bed. This blue light messes with our circadian rhythm and makes the brain think it is still daytime. The body becomes confused and will not start signaling for melatonin to be released. Melatonin is a key component for deep sleep. Without it, you will not have a high-quality period of rest.
Second, you need to get your room nice and cool. Before we had heat it was just cold. We slept outside under the stars. Which was a cool temperature most of the times. If you can replicate this in your bedroom, then you will be less reluctant to wake up in the middle of the night.
Third, ensure that your room is pitch black dark. You shouldn’t be able to see your hand in front of your face when you get in bed. This again is replicating what it was like to sleep in the wilderness. We had no artificial light or streetlamps peeking in. If you live in the city, then you can invest in some black-out curtains to shut out as much light as possible. You can even go as far to keep all electronics away from the bedroom so that there are no flickering lights of any nature.
Lastly, try to avoid drinking a ton of fluids before bed. This will wake you up to go to the bathroom which can interrupt that sleeping cycle.
What else can you do to improve sleep?
There are a few other ways in which you can improve the quality of your sleep.
One huge way is by supplementation. Most supplements will contain various vitamins and minerals that support relaxation before bed and a higher quality of sleep. To mention some, you have L-tryptophan, melatonin, valerian root extract, 5 HTP, and GABA. All of which can play a huge role in producing a very high-quality and deep sleep.
You can find high quality ingredients such as these in 1-UP Nutrition’s PM Weight Loss Support(men’s) and their Beauty Dream PM Weight Loss Support (women’s). This is a supplement that contains the previously mentioned nutrients, as well as some others that actually support weight loss. So, this is a great addition to your nighttime routine.
In addition to taking supplements, you can actually focus on removing some things around your sleep. Caffeine is one of these. Caffeine provides you with energy and keeps you from being tired, and this is great during the day or for getting your morning started. However, it isn’t great for your sleep.
Caffeine has a half-life of about 5-8 hours depending on the person. This means that it can stay in your system from quite some time. If you want to ensure a good night’s sleep, then avoid having caffeine closer to bedtimes. A good rule of thumb is to cut off consumption around noon. This way, none of that caffeine will get in the way of your sleep!
You need sleep
If you weren’t convinced before, now you should be. Sleep is crucial for your health and for your development in the gym. If you feel like you’re slacking when it comes to the amount of sleep and the quality, try out the tips that you’ve received in this post. They are proven ways to increase your natural ability to sleep better. However, they won’t work unless you put them to use. Stop letting sleep be the reason for your bad health or lack of results. Take it seriously, and your body will reward you.