Sleep Hacks Part I - Keys to a Better Night's Rest

There are three pillars to making gains and building muscle -- diet, training, and recovery.

Try to build the body of a god (or goddess) on only one or two of these and you’ll be fighting an uphill battle your entire life. Most people tend to focus on the diet and training aspects of chiseling a fine physique, but overlook the most crucial aspect of making gains -- recovery. Remember that muscle is broken down during training, it’s during our rest time that the body repairs and builds muscle.

You’re only in the gym for a max of 2 hours or so everyday. That leaves you 22 hours each day to focus on recovery. The most significant chunk of those 22 hours is the 7-9 hours of sleep you should be getting every night.

Sleep is the time when the body’s anabolic hormones are at an all time high and protein synthesis is ratcheted up considerable -- skip sleep, and you’re seriously inhibiting your capacity for gains.[1] On top of that, getting adequate sleep keeps catabolic hormones like cortisol in check and helps set the stage for optimal brain function.

As you can see sleep is just as important (if not more so) that your diet or training. Here, we present the first in our series of posts to help you hack sleep and get the best night’s rest you’ve ever had.

 

Cut Out Stimulants

Caffeine is great for just about everything in life...except sleep. Having coffee,soda, or a pre workout too late in the evening can seriously mess with your ability to fall asleep naturally or at your regular bedtime.

Caffeine’s half-life in adults is roughly 5-6 hours depending on the individual. That mean, if you’re trying to hit the hay at 9 P.M. every night, you shouldn’t consume caffeine any later than 3 P.M. -- and even earlier if you’re stim-sensitive!

 
Establish a Night-time Routine

You have a daytime routine of waking up, showering, eating breakfast, going to work, etc. that sets you up for success in your daily life. Now, it’s time to take the same approach with your sleep life.

Creating a regimented schedule at night will help let your body know it’s time to wind down and get ready for a great night’s sleep. Start by shutting down phones, emails, texts, computers, etc. two hours before bed, as well as heading to bed at the same time each night.

For example: Eat dinner at 7 pm, do the dishes, relax on the sofa while reading a book or having an evening drink (non-alcoholic), then write down any concerns or reminders for the next day so as not to think about them while trying to go to sleep. Wash up and brush your teeth before bed, then slip under the covers and take calm, soothing breaths until you’re catching some z’s!

 

Tea Time!
Building off our last point, though you do want to avoid stimulants or alcohol immediately before bed, having a cup of herbal or decaf green tea may actually help you get to sleep quicker. Tea leaves are loaded with L-Theanine, an amino acid that helps with relaxation and has been shown to improve sleep quality.[3] So, if you’re looking for a night cap to end the evening, cozy up with a nice mug of warm tea and save the caffeine and alcohol for other times during the day.

 

Embrace your Inner Vampire

Make your bedroom as dark as humanly possible. This means unplugging anything that emits a light or glows (phone, tv, DVr) and covering your windows with blackout curtains. Sure your friends may start referring to you as Count Dracula, but you’ll be sleeping like a baby, while they’re tossing and turning every night from ambient light creeping into their room.

 

Chill Out

Make sure your bedroom is cool at night. Research has shown that you’re more likely to sleep when your core body temp is lower, and less likely to sleep when the temperature is elevated.[3] On the flip side of the coin, sleeping in a room that’s too cold also has been shown to interfere with quality sleep.[4]

Based on this, it’s recommended that the ideal temperature for sleep is between 60 and 67°F. So turn down the A/C at night and keep the ceiling fan running to make a comfortable, cozy sleeping environment.

Takeaway

Getting a good night’s sleep doesn’t have to seem like an insurmountable task. Quality rest helps restore your body and mind -- making you happier, healthier, and more productive in your daily life. Try a couple of these tips tonight and see just how much better your night (and morning) can be. And stay tuned for future installments of Sleep Hacks!

 

References


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