Your sleeping patterns could be slowing you down from achieving your fitness and body composition goals. Here we will focus more on quality over quantity. Optimizing sleep quality could be the missing key to getting leaner and boosting your energy and productivity.
The 8-hour rule
We understand that very little sleep is not good. In fact, it causes many problems with normal brain function, not to mention long term effects. There is evidence from many people from the past and even their contemporaries who got very little sleep and managed to live healthily and be very successful. The same for the contrary, as those who require sleeping more than 8 hours, find it essential just the same.
Ultimately, there are the extremes at both ends of sleep quantity, and they represent a very small percentage of the population. For most people, chances are that 7-8 hours of sleep is a good quantity of sleep to aim for.
Here are five tips to improve your sleep quality, the often-missing key.
1. Workout Early
Research shows that a workout done early in the day will improve your sleep quality. When you choose to workout later in the day, for example after work in the evening, research shows this can have a negative effect on your sleep quality, and, most function have already spent most of their energy already, leading to mostly less effective workouts.
Be more strict with yourself and actually try to get to bed on time (use an alarm if required) and ideally get your workout done before work. You will sleep better that night and the cycle can start all over again the next day.
Pro Tip: It takes 66 days to form a new habit, that becomes automatic to you. Not the often misquoted 21 days. So, persevere with the early morning workouts as nothing will change over just one night.
2. Take a Warm Shower or Bath Before Bed
Small changes in body temperature can have a huge impact on your sleeping habits. A warm shower before bed temporarily raises your core body temperature, only until you step out into the colder room allowing your body temperature to drop again. This tiny little trick sends powerful signals to our body’s internal clocks, helping to synchronize them and provide a more optimal internal environment for a better night’s sleep.
3. Eliminate Technology
I've you haven't heard already, phones, tablets, computers, and TVs keep you awake at night. The blue light emitted from these devices can keep you awake for longer, as well as disrupt your sleeping patterns.
The solution? Ban these devices at least 30 minutes before bed if you can, ideally longer. If you cannot do this then some devices have programs or apps that alter the color and level of light emitted from your device. Eliminating the culprit before bed will be the better option, but if you need your nightly fix of TV or social media then these light adjusting tools can be a real sleep saver.
4. Create a comfy space
Your bedroom should become a space of calmness and relaxation. Think of a place where very little light can get in, and its sole purpose is for sleep. Outside your sacred sleep space, your home could be full of technology and distractions, but when it comes to your bedroom your brain needs to be associating that sacred space with sleep and restfulness. Getting rid of the TV is also on the table, there is plenty of room in the house to enjoy the television instead.
Just create your own dark room free of worry and distraction, reserving your bedroom for sleep and sex only. The latter is optional, but due to the release of several hormones, sex can help you sleep, just saying.
There are some supplements that have been shown to help you get a great night’s sleep and, are more than worth the investment if you really struggle. Even a placebo effect would help. Most of these have been shown to increase levels of certain chemicals or hormones that regulate your internal sleep clock, most popularly melatonin.
Supplement Options to Consider:
Melatonin, (of course) is a powerful sleep hormone and can be found in supplement form, although not as widely available in some countries. Melatonin supplementation is also particularly effective for helping prevent jet lag when taken at the right time according to the destination time zone.
Ornithine is an amino acid that helps your body to eliminate ammonia in the gut and helps to relax and de-stress the body. Some people sleep dramatically better with ornithine. As a bonus, it will also increase growth hormone levels, too.
5-HTP is a precursor to serotonin and melatonin. It helps you fall asleep, and many have reported how effective it is for sleep quality.
L-tryptophan is an amino acid that has been shown to increase brain levels of serotonin, a "feel good" hormone, as well as melatonin. Both are extremely important in sleep, and studies show that low intake of tryptophan through diet can disrupt the amount of serotonin and melatonin naturally produced by the body.
L-theanine in capsule form helps with relaxation.
GABA is a neuroinhibitory transmitter. It’s what your brain uses to shut itself down—great for type-A personalities and people whose brains are always active. Taken away from any other protein, since this can affect its absorption, GABA can dramatically calm you before bed.
Sleep Matters, way more than you think
Some of us spend half of our lives or more in bed. It would be doing your body and brain a disservice not to consider your sleep quality. Use these simple tips to help you feel sharper, gain energy, and achieve your daily goals.