If you're looking to maximise your performance inside the gym, build more muscle, lose body fat and improve your recovery; it's essential you're getting enough sleep every night. Neglecting sleep can have major implications on your body from affecting hormone levels, to increasing cravings - you can take all the supplements, try all the different diets in the world and have the best programme in the world but if you aren't sleeping you're selling yourself short!
Here's 5 tips below on how best to optimise your sleep and sleep routine:
1. Create a Consistent Sleep Schedule: Creating and maintaining a consistent sleep schedule can be your first start point. Set yourself some guidelines of when you'll be going to sleep and a time that personally works for you - if you struggle to get to sleep early then don't force yourself too - just take into account your wake up time. Our bodies have internal clocks (circadian rhythms) that benefit from a consistent sleep and wake schedule and this helps for us to get into a rhythm. This helps regulate hormone production, including those related to muscle growth and recovery.
2. Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine: Avoiding screens (phones, tablets, TVs) before bedtime is essential due to the blue light interference with melatonin production and the majority of media we consume now gets us stimulated and firing on all cylinder's - which you don't need before bed. Get yourself to switch off and calm down with activities such as reading, meditation or some gentle stretching.
3. Make Your Sleep Environment Ideal: If you want to get a good nights sleep optimising your sleep environment can be vital. Try to keep your bedroom cool, dark and quiet if possible and invest into a comfortable mattress and pillows to support yourself in a proper sleep posture. Keep your phones or any devices away from the bed if you're able too and on do not disturb to prevent yourself being woken up unnecessarily.
4. Watch Your Diet and Hydration: The food and drink you can consume can impact your nights sleep hugely. Avoid heavy, spicy, or large meals close to bedtime and be conscious of the types of foods you're consuming. Tryptophan is an amino acid that can promote relaxation and sleepiness: foods such as turkey, chicken, dairy products, nuts, and seeds contain tryptophan and incorporating these foods into your evening meal may potentially impact the quality of your sleep for the evening. With a half life of 5 hours Caffeine may also impact your sleep so aim to keep caffeinated drinks to the morning and early afternoon if you're an avid consumer of them! It's a common myth that Alcohol improves your sleep; while it might initially make you feel drowsy, it can disrupt your sleep cycle. It can lead to fragmented sleep and decreased REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which is essential for cognitive function and memory. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation and avoid it close to bedtime!
5. Regular Exercise and Physical Activity: Regular exercise has a significant effect on sleep by reducing stress, increasing sleep drive and balancing hormones. To optimise the benefits training in the morning, afternoon or straight from work is key to ensuring you're winding down before trying to get to sleep and ensuring your body temperature and heart rate has reduced. Training too close to your bedtime may be stimulating and can interfere with your falling asleep. An early morning training session is the best way to set yourself up for the day so give it a go if you don't already!
Improving your sleep isn't just about how many hours you're spending in bed, making sure you're getting in good quality sleep to improve your recovery and fuel your performance should be key!
Written by Charlie Hitchcock
Owner at Optimum Fitness Tetbury