Have you ever thought that the reason you might not be making the gains you seek in the gym is because of poor sleep? This is because tends to be one of the last things that people tend address when it comes to their health and wellness. In a world full of constant stimulation, no wonder our brains never truly get a chance to turn off. Sleep is where your body recovers, rejuvenates and rebuilds, so when you lack quality Z’s, your body does not get a chance to repair so it can handle the next waves of stressors. Exercise, like others, is a stress on the body, and a lack of sleep does not allow the body to adapt to what is thrown at it. I would like to take this time to lay out a few strategies that will improve your sleep and lead to greater gains in your physical and mental health.
Get a Quality Sleep Routine
When we get up for the day, we tend to have a routine that gets us jump started; go to the bathroom, shower, eat breakfast and even exercise. But why do we not take the same approach for our sleep. Constant stimulation can really put a damper on this process. I recommend a few simple things that can help you begin developing an effective sleep routine. It takes time for your body to know it’s time to go to bed, so try shutting down electronics a few hours before bed and engage in calming activities. This will allow your brain to being the “sleep” process. This can consist of reading a book, listening to a podcast, meditating, or even sharing romantic moments with your partner. All telling your body, the day is over. Remember, sleep is a runway, not a launching pad, so take your time before bed seriously and watch the quality of your Z’s improve.
Reduce Blue Light
As humans, our circadian rhythm (the body’s internal clock) has evolved to rise with the sun and set with moon. Having on florescent, blue wave emitting lights on can tell your body that it is daytime. Now I do not want to be a hypocrite when it comes to this. I like to watch the golf channel at night to help me relax, but simple practices such as dimming the lights or wearing blue blocking glasses can go a long way in reducing blue light and increase melatonin (sleep hormone) production.
Black Out Your Bedroom
Studies have shown that optimal sleep occurs most often when your bedroom is completely blacked out. This means no light whatsoever. Many people have televisions, alarm clocks, and even fans that emit even the slightest amounts of light. Believe it or not, that little bit of light can disrupt your sleep. Your body absorbs light through your eyes and skin, and even though your eyes are closed, the small amount of light can tell your body that it needs to be awake. I recommend using black out shades and covering up and small lights to get the full effect.
Do No Eat Too Close to Bed
Like with our circadian rhythm, humans evolved to eat with the sun. This leads to the notion that we were not meant to eat later at night. Fortunately, Americans live in a world of abundant food. Unfortunately, what we tend to do is choose foods late night that lead to gut inflammation. This leads to poor digestions that will keep us up at night. To keep things simple, put a time limit on when you consume and if you must eat later, whether its work related or not, try to choose something that is easily digestible.
Lower the Temperature in Your Home
When you sleep, your body naturally lowers its internal temperature. When it is unable to do so appropriately, it is difficult to get into REM (rapid eye movement) and deep sleep. Studies have shown that sleep is optimized when temperatures are lowered to around 65 degrees. This is something I personally have struggled with for years. I sleep hot while my partner sleeps cool. If I were to crank up the AC so I can cool down the room, I may get my head bitten off. I purchased a cooling pad from Chili and my sleep has drastically improved and our relationship has stayed intact. If you want to purchase a quality cooling pad, you may have to spend a pretty penny, so if that isn’t feasible, try lowering the thermostat at night and watch your sleep improve while you stay cozy in your bed.
Sleep is the x-factor when it comes to health and wellness. It is where your body heals, rejuvenates, and repairs. Try making sleep a priority and watch your strength and performance gains skyrocket.