5 QUICK FIRE TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL NIGHTS SLEEP
Your sleeping patterns could be slowing down your health and fitness goals! Many of us have heard the “8 hour rule” which deals with sleep quantity; but what about sleep quality?
The truth is when it comes to the 8-hour ‘rule’ it’s not true for everyone. It’s what you could consider to be the average, as how much sleep you actually need to successfully function on is a bit of a black and white area. There’s a small number of people that can function properly, and even thrive on just a few hours of sleep per night. Famously ex British Prime Ministers Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher both functioned on just a few hours of sleep per night, most nights. And they both successfully ran a country on it. On the other hand there are many people out there that NEED to get in 10 hours or more per night just to get through each day. We won’t go in to the ins and outs of it, and why, but it’s important for you to understand that what rules apply to you might not be the same for someone else. What you do need to consider however is sleep quality.
HERE ARE 5 QUICK FIRE TIPS TO HELP YOU GET SOME MUCH NEEDED Z’S…
#1 – HIT YOUR WORKOUTS EARLY
Not an early morning person? Well you should be! Research shows that a workout done early on in the day will improve your sleep quality later that night. When you choose to workout later in the day, for example after work in the evening, research shows this can actually have a negative effect on your sleep. Get to bed on time, set an earlier alarm, and get your workout done before work not after. You’ll sleep better that night and the cycle can start all over again the next day.
#2 – TAKE A WARM SHOWER OR BATH BEFORE BED
Small changes in body temperature can have a huge impact on our sleeping habits. A warm (not too hot or too cold) shower before bed temporarily raises your core body temperature, only until you step out in to the colder room allowing your body temperature to drop again. This tiny little trick sends powerful little signals to our bodies internal ‘clocks’, helping to synchronise them and provide a more optimal internal environment for a better nights sleep.
#3 – ELIMINATE TECHNOLOGY BEFORE BED (GET OFF YOUR PHONE!)
I’ve you haven’t heard already, phones, tablets, computers and TV’s keep you awake at night. The ‘blue’ light emitted from these devices can keep you awake for longer, as well as disrupt your sleeping patterns. Solution; ban these devices at least 30 minutes before bed if you can. If you can’t do this then some devices have programmes or apps you can download or switch on that alter the colour and level of light being emitted from your device. Eliminating the culprit before bed will be the better option, but if you need your nighttime fix of TV or social media then these light adjusting tools can be a real sleep saver.
#4 – CREATE A CAVE
Your bedroom should be cave-like. Think of a place where very little light is allowed to get in, and its sole purpose is to sleep and hibernate. Outside your room your home could be full of technology and distractions, but when it comes to your bedroom your brain NEEDS to be associating it with sleep and restfulness. Because your body adjusts it’s internal sleep clock to light you also need to be making sure that your room is as dark as possible, that means lined curtains or good blinds if you have to. Just make it like a dark cave. When you start to do this you might feel a little groggy when waking up at first, but that’s because you’ve been hitting that important deep sleep your body craves, but as soon as you’re up you’ll have more energy than ever.
#5 – CHOOSE THE RIGHT SUPPS
Avoid caffeine before bed! Hopefully you’ve all hear that one, right?! Caffeine not only keeps you awake but completely disrupts you’re sleeping patterns. You’ll be tossing and turning all night. The thing is caffeine has a chemical half-life of 5-6 hours. That means it takes 5-6 hours for caffeine to be half-eliminated from your body. That means that even if you have a coffee, take some caffeine pills, or have your pre-workout mid-afternoon chances are there’s going to be some kind of effect on your sleep that night. As a rule of thumb try to avoid any form of caffeine after mid-day to ensure a great nights sleep.
On the other end of the spectrum there are some supplements that have been shown to help you get a great nights sleep, and are more than worth the investment. Most of these have been shown to increase levels of certain chemicals or hormones that regulate your internal sleep clock, such as melatonin. Here are some proven supplements to consider:
- Ornithine is an amino acid that helps your body to eliminate ammonia in the gut, and helps to relax and de-stress the body. Some people sleep dramatically better with ornithine. As a bonus it will also increase Growth Hormone levels too.
- L-theanine in capsule form helps with relaxation.
- 5-HTP is a precursor to serotonin and melatonin. It helps you fall asleep, and many have reported how effective it is for sleep.
- L-Tryptophan is an amino acid that has been shown to increase brain levels of serotonin, a ‘feel good’ hormone, as well as melatonin. Both are extremely important in sleep, and studies show that low intake of tryptophan through diet can disrupt the amount of serotonin and melatonin naturally produced by the body.
- Melatonin is a powerful sleep hormone and can be found in supplement form, although not that widely available in the UK.
- GABA is a neuro-inhibitory transmitter. It’s what your brain uses to shut itself down. Great for type A personalities and people who’s brains are always active. Taken away from any other protein, since this can affect its absorption, GABA can dramatically calm you before bed.
Some of us spend half of our lives or more in bed. It would be doing your body a disservice not to consider your sleep quality. You’ll feel sharper, have more energy, be stronger and look leaner. Give some of these sleep hacks a try.
Also known as “The Fitness Maverick”, Gareth specializes in smarter training techniques to get you strong and looking great naked year round!