Sleep Is An Important Aspect Of Health And Achieving Your Fitness Goals. Here's 6 Ways To Sleep Better Than Ever Before
How can knowing how to sleep better help you lose weight and build muscle?
It seems like these three things are completely unrelated. But, in actual fact, sleep is the third most important aspect of nutrition and health, regardless of your goal.
Whether you want to lose weight, build muscle, or simply be healthier, the amount and quality of sleep you get each night is crucial.
But this fundamental part of your health is frequently overlooked.
In an age where technology and working long hours dominate our lives, sleep can be an afterthought. Something that just happens at the end of the day, IF you're lucky.
Consequently, you live in a state of constant sleep deprivation. Resorting to stimulants to function during the day. And the strongest sleep supplements to help you get a handful of hours in the land of nod.
In reality, there's a few simple things you can do to help you sleep better.
And in this article, you'll discover 6 simple lifestyle changes that can dramatically improve your sleep.
So, if you want to optimise your sleep then you NEED to read this article.
And if you want to listen to the audio version of the article, click the play button below:
Why Is It Important To Sleep Better?
"After Calories And Macros, Sleep Should Be Your Next Focus"
There are many reasons why sleep is important.
You feel rested, rejuvenated, and ready live life at your best.
And there's even more benefits, directly related to your efforts to live a leaner, healthier, stronger life.
Sleep Can Help Improve Feelings Of Hunger
Sleep can help contribute to weight and fat loss by helping control cravings and feelings of hunger. Wake up after a night of minimal sleep and you're liable to have increased feelings of hunger. You might not realise it, but living in a sleep deprived state effects your hormones. Ghrelin (the hunger hormone) increases as your amount of sleep declines. Consequently, you transform from a normal human-being in full control, to a ravenous cookie monster, hell-bent on eating your bodyweight in calorific treats.
Needless to say, this isn't working in your favour when it comes to reducing body fat levels.
But sleep deprivation doesn't just stop at hunger. It derails the gain train too.
Sleep Deprivation Impacts The Gains
To build muscle you need to lift weights. And at some point you'll need to train hard. After all, this is what creates the stimulus for muscular adaptations to occur. Without adequate training, the gain train won't leave the station.
So hitting your workouts sleep deprived and lacking in energy, is not conducive to training hard. And a truck-load of stimulants IS NOT the answer.
Oh, and there's one more thing.
You Risk Losing Muscle Too
Sleep deprivation can negatively impact metabolic flexibility.
"WTF is THAT?" I hear you cry.
Metabolic flexibility refers to your body's ability to switch between energy sources, relative to the activity you're doing. For example, for high intensity training, carbohydrate would be the predominant fuel source of choice. And at rest, it's mainly fat.
However, a lack of sleep affects your ability to switch between these as needed. And when sleeping, there's a risk your body begins to utilise protein instead of fat, for fuel. And that means one thing. You lose muscle.
So, if that doesn't prompt you into focusing on figuring out how to sleep better, nothing will.
A calorie deficit might be good for achieving your goals, but a sleep deficit is NOT!
What's The Optimal Amount Of Sleep?
"7-9 Hours Is Best For Most"
The Rock might be able to function on 4 hours sleep. But you're not The Rock. And neither am I.
As much as I'd love to say I'm in the 1% of people who can function on zero shut-eye, I can't. And my guess is, you and I are in the same situation. So don't fool yourself into believing you're "crushing it", despite only getting 2 hours sleep every night.
The recommended amount of sleep for the average adult is 7-9 hours (but you might be able to function on a little less). A fantasy world, you might think.
You need to focus on is optimising your lifestyle, habits, and routines to get the most amount of sleep possible. Like fat loss, and moving mountains of iron in the gym, it's a skill and process that happens over time. So stick with it.
Aiming for 7-9 hours of sleep per night might seem like a dream world. But, with a few basic lifestyle changes, you can make it a reality.
How To Sleep Better #1: Reduce Chemicals Impacting Sleep
"Caffeine And Alcohol Could Be Your Worst Enemy"
If you are relying on caffeine to function, chances are it's impacting your sleep.
Coffee, soda, energy drinks, and pre-workout all contain caffeine (some in significant amounts). And that caffeine has a half-life of 4-6 hours. So your late night gym session, fuelled by "Raging Beast Mode 666", is not helping you get much needed rest.
Remember, sleep is MORE important than the hit of alertness you get from caffeine. Therefore, it makes sense to adjust the amount you have, AND the timing of it. Capping caffeine at 6mg/kg is a start. But going one step further and limiting when you have it, is likely to have a bigger impact.
You might feel as though you can sleep like a hibernating bear after a few drinks, but the quality of your sleep is poor. As a result, you wake up the next morning, tired, cranky, and feeling like a bear took a shit in your mouth.
Your weekend workout is not set to be the smash-fest you planned. And the call of some junk food and an excessive amount of calories is pretty strong.
Limit caffeine to 2-6mg/kg and set yourself a cut-off time to allow for a better night's sleep. And limit alcohol consumption as much as possible. Although, be careful not to kill your social life, because that's important too.
How To Sleep Better #2: Turn Off The Electronics
"Checking Instagram Multiple Times Throughout The Night Is A Bad Idea"
Technology is part of modern life. Smartphones, laptops, and TVs are seemingly within reach at any moment of the day.
And it's hard to get away from it.
Even when you want to switch off and relax, you often switch ON the TV.
But the blue light from all this tech isn't helping you sleep better. In fact, the bright lights are creating a stimulus for your brain, causing it to remain "awake", when actually you should be sleeping.
Melatonin is a hormone that regulates your sleep-wake cycle. During the course of the day, your melatonin levels rise.
And this signalling of melatonin is largely driven by decreasing light, with peak levels achieved at night, when it's time to sleep.
But your 24/7 lifestyle messes with these natural cues. Essentially, light acts as a melatonin suppressant, negatively impacting your sleep. And the blue light coming from the technology you use is one of the worst offenders.
So the easiest solution is to limit use of these devices at least one hour before bed. It might mean you have to read a book, or god forbid, talk to another human. But hey, real people are better than thousands you've never met on Instagram, right?
Make the hour before bed a technology-free zone. Limit the amount of blue light stimulating your brain, to allow your natural cues to work their sleeping magic.
How To Sleep Better #3: Learn To Switch Off
"Try Switching Off Your Brain, Along With Your Phone"
With your technology switched off and safely out of sight, attention turns to relaxing and de-stressing.
This might take the form of reading a book, cooking, soaking in a warm bath, listening to whale music, or even getting jiggy in the bedroom. Whatever it is that helps you forget the troubles of the day, plan time for it at the end of your day. Even if that means sending a meeting invite to your partner for some between-the-sheets action.
Find your way of switching off and make time for it in your daily routine. It might seem inconsequential, but small lifestyle changes have a big impact.
How To Sleep Better #4: Take Care Of Your Sleep Environment
"Create The Optimal Environment To Maximise Sleep"
Your food environment is important for helping you adhere to calories and avoid cycles of binge-eating. Keeping those calorific treats out of sight, certainly helps reduce the feelings of temptation.
Equally, your sleep environment plays an important role in optimising your rest and recovery process.
And there are a number of simple things you can do to turn your bedroom into sleep heaven.
- Keep The Room Dark: Total blackout if possible. Get rid of any artificial light completely.
- Keep The Room Cool: Optimal temperature is around 16-19 degrees Celcius (a little higher if you're sleeping in the buff with no bed sheets).
- Make The Room Noise Free: Falling asleep with the TV on is probably a bad idea. And if your partner snores, boot them out into the spare room.
Creating the right environment for optimal sleep is quick, easy, and effective. With a few minimal adjustments, you can create your very own nighttime haven.
How To Sleep Better #5: Get Into A Routine
"Think About Your Sleep Routine As Much As Your Workout Routine"
Creating a regular routine around sleep helps create a repeatable habit.
And while your routine won't fall into place overnight, with patience and persistence, it will become second-nature, eventually.
Start by aiming to go to bed at the same time each night. And wake up at the same time every morning. Over time, you create a natural rhythm, making the process of falling asleep when you want to, much easier.
Use the other tips in this article to build your optimal pre-bed routine. For example, if you want to go to sleep at 10pm, work back logically from there;
- 10pm Sleep
- 9:30pm Read for 30 mins
- 9pm Switch off phone and take a warm bath
Again, find what works for you through experimentation and adjustment. Then stick to it.
Form a series of habits around your sleep pattern, conducing to optimal sleep. Tweak and adjust as you need to, until you reach the point everything fells effortless.
How To Sleep Better #6: Go To The Gym
"Get Training To Make Those Sleep Gains"
Last, but not least, the gym.
Yes, going to the gym can help your sleep. All the more reason to jump aboard the gain train.
But, before you head off to spend all night at the gym, there's a word of caution. Response to training and its impact on sleep can be highly individual. You might be someone who sleeps better training early in the day. Or you might be someone you disappears to the land of nod after a workout later in the day.
One thing is for sure, exercise is likely to help you improve sleep. So find the time of day that suits both your lifestyle, and preferences.
Exercise helps improve health in many different ways. Sleep is just one of them. Experiment with training time (if you can) to discover what approach helps you optimise sleep.
The Bottom Line On How To Sleep Better
Overlooking such a fundamental aspect of daily life, like sleep, could limit your ability to lose weight and build muscle. Take your pre-bed routine as seriously as your workout routine. Sleeping better will help you see gains both in and out of the gym.
Modern life is fast-paced and hectic.
Sleep is often an afterthought and grossly neglected.
Living life surgically attached to your phone eventually takes its toll. Your brain is wired 24/7, making it difficult to switch off when you need to. But failing to recharge your body's batteries is creeping up on you. Even if you don't realise it.
Poor workouts, increased hunger, tiredness, low mood, and no energy, are just some of the signs you are sleep deprived. But the answer to your problems is not in stimulants to get you through the day and supplements to knock you out.
This is akin to putting a sticking plaster over the Grand Canyon.
The solution is more straightforward than you realise. SLEEP BETTER!
The Benefits Of Sleeping Better
And this might require work on your part. And it might feel uncomfortable as you adjust your routine. But it's worth it.
Think about it for a second. If you take the time to focus on your sleep, these are just a few of the benefits waiting for you on the other side of your slumber;
- Feel more revitalised and on top of your game each and every day.
- Have more energy to workout and build an amazing physique.
- Control cravings and hunger more easily, so you can lose body fat and shape the lean body you want.
And that's just the start.
So use the 6 tips you've learned in this article and TAKE ACTION. Put a routine into place and begin to reap the rewards.
Now go forth and get snuggled up between the sheets.
Here's How To Calculate How Many Calories You Need To Achieve Your Fitness Goals (And A Free Training Programme)
If you want to get on the fast track to a leaner, healthier, stronger body, I've got something for you. Simply click the link below and you'll get access to my free online calorie and macro calculator. Designed to take the headache out of knowing how many calories you need to achieve your goals. Plus, you can grab my Lean Life Kickstarter Pack. In it you’ll find a free 4 week beginner’s training programme (complete with exercise videos and a workout tracker), free recipe packs, plus so much more.
So if you want all that, go here.
But for now, all I’ll say is… Keep living the Lean Life and I’ll see you soon.