This should of course be a priority, though the fast pace of modern life attention to sleep can often be disregarded to the detriment of our muscles, our mind and our health!
To contextualise the importance of achieving adequate rest we need to look at the natural chain of events that have to occur if muscle growth is to be obtained.
Adequate Stimulus, based on perfect technique + sufficient intensity = Muscle Overload.
Muscle Overload + surplus quality calories + adequate rest and recovery (sleep) = Muscle Growth.
All very simple, but how often do we under-estimate the importance and benefits of a good night’s sleep? Or perhaps more accurately how willing are we to always ‘make do’ with 5-6 hours sleep?
The mind requires quality time to recover too. Would you consider running the treadmill for 6 hours? Bicep curling for 3 hours? Or Squatting for 2 hours? Of course not, so why should you consider ‘thinking’ for 18-20 hours per day?
When we’re tired not only do ‘molehills’ become ‘mountains’ but our performance is significantly compromised too. Our reactions, concentration levels and recovery between sets all suffer but in all probability you don’t need me to tell you this. What you may not know however is the proven relationship between sleep and natural testosterone production. Providing we manage a solid 8 hour sleep our brain sends out the order to ‘ramp up’ testosterone production with levels peaking at 8am while dropping throughout the day to our ‘daily low’ at 8pm. Imagine your levels of testosterone at 8pm if you only managed 4-5 hours sleep? It’s not a coincidence that the physical effects you’ll be experiencing at 8pm after a few hours sleep are somewhat similar to the side effects associated with low levels of testosterone!
Identifying and discussing the negatives/problem is one thing, however doing something about is quite another but I only have good news for you. By implementing the following minor changes to your lifestyle you can begin to sleep again like the days of old before the worries and constraints of life took over!
As with all tips/advices some points appeal to some more than others, try experimenting and ‘cherry pick’ several of these yourself and find what works for you.
Too much is made of the ‘negatives’ associated with lack of sleep, in themselves they can be an additional source of frustration. Whereas not enough is made of the positives and ease of achieving good quality nights’ sleep including the fact that you’ll feel absolutely amazing for what accounts to a few minor changes, so here you go:
1. Try not to eat anything 2 hours before going to bed.
2. Refrain from any form of TV, gaming, DVD’s etc 1 hour before bed.
3. Try to read something positive or of ‘worth’ in the last hour prior to sleep.
4. Stay hydrated throughout the day (see previous tip).
5. Refrain from alcohol if at all possible and caffeine from 6pm.
6. Try to train first thing in the morning when test levels peak.
7. Refrain from take-away and processed foods, opting instead for fresh meats with vegetables or a sustained release protein/MRP shake.
8. Don’t take stimulant based pre-workout supplements/energy drinks after 6pm.
9. Consider the hours of sleep before 12pm of double value.
10. Try and get out for a 20 minute walk in the evening, away from all distractions – making sense of the day that’s just unfolded.
11. Consider bathing in that last hour prior to bed.
12. Add a few drops of pure lavender oil on each side of your pillow at bedtime.
13. Don’t let the Sun go down on any arguments – to quote an old saying.
14. Make your bedroom as tidy and as dark as possible in preparation for sleep.
15. Finally consider supplementing with ASN ZMA+ 5-HTP – it’s this entire purpose we developed such a product!
I appreciate that improving sleep is harder to attain for those of you with new additions to the family but the fact of the matter is, you are the ones that stand to benefit the most. There’s something in the above list for everybody, steps we can all take to pro-actively improve our sleep.