Sleep, so simple yet something many can’t seem to get right. Whether it’s due to ridiculous working hours or a hectic social lifestyle, sleep is the one thing that if most people fix would change the playing field completely. Whether the goal is to get leaner, stronger or to grow more muscle; proper sleep has so many benefits that it affects all goals equally. Change your sleeping patterns and see what it can do for you.
The mechanics of sleep…
Most people need anywhere between 7-9 hours of sleep a night but when taking averages of the people that train with me, the average seems to be more like 4-7 hours a night. With demanding jobs either having people work late or being so demanding that people want a social release at the end of the night, more and more people are finding it hard to switch off. Get your 7-9 hours though and that’s where the magic happens.
When your body gets enough rest, you can recover from exercise quicker your stress hormones are lower throughout the day and most importantly for how you look, your glucose metabolism improves with regular sleeping patterns. But don’t worry too much, 1-2 nights of poor sleep isn’t going to screw up your normal hormonal signalling but consistent inadequate sleep will make you weak, fat and stressed to the point where achieving your fitness goals, especially when it comes to aesthetics, can become a real uphill struggle.
The most important hormone to think about when improving sleep is HGH (human growth hormone), which is released in cycles as you sleep. It’s different for everyone, but is generally said that the first release takes place about 90-120 minutes after you fall asleep, and then another release 3 hours after that. So getting at least 5-6 hours sleep a night will be extremely beneficial, but bump that up to 8-9 hours, and everything improves significantly. HGH is not only massively beneficial for recovery from exercise, but is also one of the key players when it comes to burning off massive amounts of body fat.
To get the maximum benefits from your sleep patterns, here are a few tips for you to implement, to get the best out of a bad situation.
- Exercise: Those that exercise report better sleeping patterns then those that do not. Even more so, those that perform more vigorous and intense exercise, sleep a lot deeper at better then those who perform light exercise. Find an example of an intense training program here.
- Consistency: If you create a proper sleep-wake pattern, your body will naturally know when to release the calming sleep hormones and when to release the right hormones to wake you up.
- Alcohol and Caffeine: Keep these to a minimum. Depending on your source of caffeine, it will generally still be active in the body for up to 8 hours, so avoid caffeine post lunchtime.
- Clear your mind: Most people are still on their smartphones and tablets before bed, but this keeps your mind ticking over and wide awake, which in turn makes it harder to get to sleep. Try to stay away from electronics and electricity in general a good 30mins before bed. Create a sleep routine which has you calm and rested before you lay your head down.
- Natural sleep patterns: Our bodies have evolved over thousands of years to follow a natural sleep pattern, meaning sleeping when it’s dark and waking up when it’s light. The one thing that’s changed all of that for the worse is artificial lighting and electricity. Try to keep to the natural evolutionary sleep-wake cycle to get the best from your body.
Hopefully you’ve gotten some good tips from this article to help you on your way to better sleep and a better body. If there are articles you’d like to see on particular topics in the future, add your comments to the section below.