Sleep To Get Results
If you’ve trained here at The Gorilla Pit, or if you’ve spent a bit of time looking at our blog, then you’ll know that we understand and value the role hormones play in our strength, fitness and body composition. This role shouldn’t be underestimated, yet it often goes ignored by fitness professionals. Two of the biggest factors that will influence your hormone balance are what you eat, and what you do. Your nutrition and training. There is, however, a third factor, and this is one that can monumentally derail even the most well structured training and nutrition plan. If you read the title of this piece then you already know I’m talking about sleep.
The hours of sleep we have are our body’s best opportunity to recover, repair, and rebalance. If we diminish the quality or quantity of our sleep then these processes suffer. You should be aiming for seven to eight hours each night of quality rest. Here are a few tips on getting the most out of our slumber:
Avoid Caffeine, Alcohol, Nicotine, And Other Chemicals That Interfere With Sleep
First and foremost, I feel I should point out that if some of these are on your regular consumption list anyway you should be taking them off regardless of how you sleep. Nonetheless, alcohol interferes horribly with the quality of your sleep, you might fall to sleep very quickly after a few glasses of wine, but it’s going to be a poor sleep with limited recovery potential. Likewise caffeine. Even if you’re one of those people who can have a cup of coffee and be asleep half an hour later that doesn’t necessarily mean your sleep will be as restful as it would be without the coffee.
And don’t smoke. Just don’t smoke.
Keep The Temperature Around 20c
Not too hot, not too cold. Too warm a room is going to interfere with you achieving deep sleep for a number of reasons, not least of which is the discomfort that excessive sweating in bed can cause. Too cold a room meanwhile might be okay if you have a nice, thick blanket, but your extremities can still suffer, as can your whole body if you accidentally lift your cover and let in that icy night air. Control the ambient temperature and you stand a much greater chance of controlling your own temperature and thus your sleep quality.
No Screen Time For An Hour Before Bed
That’s right. Instead of exposing yourself to the stimuli of flickering screens (computer, TV, device), try doing something that doesn’t over-stimulate. Try listening to music (something calming, not Metallica), or light reading. I specify “light” here because you don’t want to over-stimulate your brain or make it work too much. Reading for professional development, reasons of learning, or to challenge yourself might not be the best thing at this time of day. I recommend you keep and read a stack of books on personal development, I recommend you have a crack at some Albert Camus at some stage, but likely these things are going to tax your brain. In the hour before bed, try listening to light music and reading something that engages you but doesn’t make you think too much. It’s not the time to learn.
My old friend… No lights in your room. Nothing. No light coming in from the outside. No power lights from your computer or TV (neither of which should be in your bedroom anyway), not even an alarm clock. Light messes with your sleep patterns, so shut it all out. You don’t sleep better with “some” light in your room, even if you think you do. You might go to sleep a little more quickly, but that’s just a matter of adjustment. If you want high-quality sleep once you’ve dropped off, no light at all.
Follow A Consistent Routine and Schedule
It might be a bath and a light snack, followed by half-an-hour of reading, it might be listening to music, it might be the ritual of a shower and donning your favourite Snoopy pyjamas. Whatever it is, if you train your body to associate these cues with sleep time it will begin to prepare for sleep when you begin the ritual.
Stick to the same going-to-bed and waking-up time every day, whether you have plans for those hours or not. Try not to vary by more than one hour, and even then do it as little as possible.
A Balanced Fluid Intake
By which I mean water. Not cola, not coffee, not coconut-water, definitely not that radioactive coloured stuff that’s sold under the title “sports-drink.” Drink enough that you don’t wake up thirsty during the night, but not so much that you’re getting up and passing quantities of urine that would put a racehorse to shame throughout the night.
Now go train, then eat, then sleep.
Are you not achieving the results you want? Have always struggled with your nutrition? Training hard but still not losing that stubborn belly fat?
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