Sleep is of paramount importance to recovery and therefore if you want to get stronger or change your body composition it is of great necessity to optimise it. Poor sleep is linked to insulin resistance, poor immune function and more. A basic disruption of the body’s natural rhythm is basically a disaster waiting to happen!
Many times I have seen an instant improvement in strength or body composition by recommending the below tips. Many of them come at no extra cost and can be applied immediately. Do you need to do all of them? No, but I have found a correlation between the more, the better.
If you don’t wake up giving yourself an 8,9 or 10 out of 10 for energy & drive then start with these tips as this is what I consider normal so any lower rating indicates a problem.
1) Standardise your waking & sleeping times
This is the first and most important tip as it regulates your circadian rhythm, which is your biological clock. This means no more lay ins! Think of it in a more drastic way, if you sleep in say 3 hours, you are telling your body the same thing as changing time zones or giving it a minor jet lag. Try to stay within 60 minutes of your normal waking time, no matter what time you go to bed. If you have a late night and early morning this rule still applies but I then recommend you pay your ‘sleep debt’ with naps.
2) Sleep in a pitch black bedroom
Light disrupts melatonin production and melatonin is a hormone that induces sleep and reduces inflammation. I recommend the smart investment of black out blinds. Simply put a darker room produces a deeper and more restorative sleep.
3) Zero electronics on in the bedroom, especially mobile phones
To me it is a no brainer to turn off your phone and wifi before bed. You’re sleeping; you can’t use either when you are doing this! Both disrupt sleep hugely. If your phone is your alarm clock, either buy an alarm clock (£5?!) or worst case use flight mode when sleeping.
Also minimise exposure to electronics before bed as this will enable you to go to sleep at the correct time. Exposure to the blue light given off by electronics before bed delays onset of melatonin production.
Blue Light equaliser: https://justgetflux.com/
4) Sleep all the way through
If and when you wake up in the middle of the night indicates a deficiency. Monitor this as each hour can correspond to something. If you wake up to pee it usually indicates a magnesium deficiency and also a routine/habit for your body. Force yourself to stay in bed and go back to sleep and even better, take another Magnesium capsule. I have never had a client wet the bed with this re-training tip!
5) Every hour before midnight is worth 2 hours after
You will secrete more growth hormone before midnight so the earlier you go to bed, the better!
6) Supplements to improve sleep
Supplements need to be individualised, but priority number 1 is Magnesium. Different chelates have different affinities for different tissues in the body for different genotypes! In short, get one with multiple chelates and then chop and change until you find something that works optimally for you.
Click Here for more reasons to take Magnesium!
Bonus: Here are some supplement protocols to help you achieve a deeper sleep
Improve Sleep (General)
- Magnesium (Pick 1+ options)
- Inositol: 1-10g in PM
- Liposomal Melatonin: 1 x Dropper Just before Bed
Improve Sleep (GABA Deficiency)
- Magtein (Nutri-Dyn): 2-5 capsules in PM
- Pure Taurine (Nutri-Dyn): 1-5 capsules in PM
- Mag Calm Pro (Nutri-Dyn): 1 x scoop in water in PM
- Inositol: 1-10g in PM
Improve Sleep (Serotonin Deficiency)
- Inositol: 1-10g in PM
- Trypto-Plus (Nutri-Dyn): 1 x capsule in PM
- SeroSyn (Nutri-Dyn): 1-2 capsules in PM
Note: During pregnancy it is advised to avoid certain botanicals
Bonus: Take your evening supplements with glutamine for better absorption and avoid caffeine after 1pm
7) Winter & summer
In winter the times of light are shorter which indicates we should be sleeping longer. In winter aim for 7-9 hours, in summer aim for 6-8 hours.
If you have a late night for whatever reason, and are still following tip #1, you have a sleep debt. You pay this with naps. It isn’t always feasible to do this during the week depending on what work circumstances allow, but utilising the weekend offers an opportunity. Aim for 30-90 minutes as any longer you might disrupt your sleep and use before 3pm. You will feel groggy immediately upon waking, give it 5-10 minutes and you’ll have more energy!
Bonus: 26 minute naps improved NASA pilots performance 34%!
9) Carbs with last meal
Picking the right carbs for you as an individual with your evening meal will boost serotonin and therefore induce sleep. Brown rice and kidney beans are a great combination.
10) Room temperature & sleep naked!
You need to be cool at night to minimise cortisol, maximise growth hormone and melatonin production.
11) Stretching &/or meditating
Both of these activities are beneficial for calming your mind and reducing cortisol
12) Mindful Strategies
Click Here for 2 options to help induce deep sleep
13) Listen to Bach for 1 hour before bed
Click Here to see how listening to classical music before bed can help relax you
Being disconnected from the earth makes us more vulnerable to poor sleep, inflammation, stress & much more. What we need to do is restore our natural electric connection to the earth and during sleep this is an easy time to do so. Purchase a sheet to go under your normal bed sheets, these can be found online from many distributors.
15) Invest in your mattress & pillow
You’re going to spend approximately one third of your life asleep, so you may as well invest in a mattress &/or pillow that will improve your relaxation whilst also being beneficial for your posture. I love my Tempur pillow & memory foam mattress!