People often think that they make their gains in the gym. Of course you have put in the work in order to see results, but more is not always better.
We actually make gains when our bodies are resting and recovering from the gym, especially during sleep. Working out breaks our bodies down in a (hopefully) very controlled and purposeful way. Then sleep and recovery is when the body repairs and grows to come back stronger and fitter.
If your sleep or overall recovery isn't great then your workout performance, physique and overall health likely will suffer, as well.
Most of us have probably experienced the effects of a night of poor quality sleep or not enough sleep. Even worse, some of us have probably been unfortunate enough to have to burn the candle at both ends or battle insomnia so that we're surviving for an extended period of time on very little sleep.
I've had both extended periods of amazing sleep for 8-10 hours and extended periods of 2 hours per night for months on end so if you're struggling with it, I can empathize with you and I can attest to the negative effects such as:
- fatigue, reduced strength and endurance or poor work performance
- depression / anxiety
- lack of motivation
- systemic inflammation (sore muscles and joints but also deeper stuff)
- foggy brain
- weight loss/gain
- food cravings or lack of appetite
These things are TERRIBLE, to deal with and it is especially frustrating if you can't figure out why you are struggling with sleep. If that is you, here are some tried and true tips for better sleep:
1) Go to bed and wake up as close to the same time each day as possible. Even on the weekends or vacations. This is tough for many, but probably the most effective tool which is why it's first. If that means you need a nap on the weekends, it is still better that you wake up early at your normal time and get your day started then come back and nap later.
2) Eliminate screen time (TV, phone, computers, etc) at least 1 hour prior to bed. The blue light disrupts your brain chemistry.
3) Keep your bedroom cool at 60-67 degrees.
4) Keep your bedroom dark - try blackout curtains, a mask, etc. Eliminate all light.
5) Keep it quiet - maybe earplugs if you can't get it quiet.
6) Avoid caffeine within 12 hours of bed time.
7) Avoid alcohol within 4 hours of bed time - night caps are a myth. Alcohol might help you fall asleep, but it prevents you from falling into certain kinds of sleep, and often leads to waking up without you even realizing it.
8) Avoid large meals or lots of water before bed.
9) Separate your space in bed from a restless partner or pets.
10) Try a meditative sleep app.
11) . Some find success with Magnesium supplementation or melatonin.
12) Go to bed early enough to get at least 8 hours.
13) Don't go to bed unless you're tired, if you can't fall asleep after 20 min then get back up, and use your bedroom only for sleep and sex.
14) . Last but not least, make sure you're getting enough exercise throughout the day so you feel tired at night. I like to do it early in the day because it disrupts my sleep if I do it later in the day.
If you've been struggling - give some of these things a try. Like I mentioned earlier, I've been there so I feel for you. Shoot me a message if you have any questions or want to vent about it!