7 BODYBUILDING SLEEP TIPS FOR BETTER REST AND RECOVERY
Getting a sufficient amount of deep, restful sleep on a consistent basis is a far more important factor when it comes to maximizing muscle growth, fat loss and overall health than most people realize.
Ensuring that you get an adequate rest each night will…
* Keep your energy levels, mood, concentration and motivation at its peak for improved performance both in and out of the gym.
* Optimize the output of important muscle building and fat burning hormones such as testosterone and IGF-1.
* Improve the efficiency at which your body utilizes fat for energy (rather than muscle) through a reduction in RER (respiratory exchange rate).
* Reduce levels of the muscle-wasting, fat-storing hormone cortisol.
These are just a few of the many benefits that a proper nightly sleep has to offer, and if you find that you have a tough time falling asleep (or that you don’t sleep deeply or for extended periods without waking up), you may end up in a pattern of chronic sleep deprivation that delivers the opposite of these effects.
Here are 7 simple but highly effective bodybuilding sleep tips that you can start following right away to both reduce the amount of time that it takes you to fall asleep and help you sleep more deeply and for longer periods of time…
Bodybuilding Sleep Tip #1
Maintain a consistent sleeping/waking schedule from day to day.
Waking up and going to bed at the same time every day helps to regulate your body’s internal clock and cues it to “expect” sleep at a certain time each night. This will both reduce the time that it takes you to fall asleep as well as improve your overall sleep quality.
Although this won’t be possible for some people due to varying hours for things like work or school, just do your best to set a schedule and stick to it as closely as you can, even on the weekends.
Bodybuilding Sleep Tip #2
Associate your bed with two things only: sleep and sex.
If you have some late-night work to finish or need to tackle some other type of “mind stimulating” activity, work on it at a desk, table, on the couch or anywhere else you can. Don’t, however, merge your sleeping space and working space into the same area.
When you crawl into your bed, you want your body to associate that environment with rest, relaxation and pleasure rather than stress and problem-solving.
Bodybuilding Sleep Tip #3
Cut off all electronics 30-60 minutes before nodding off.
Dim your lights and unplug from all of your electronic devices, including television, smartphones, laptops, tablets etc. within at least 30 minutes of going to sleep.
Bright light suppresses the body’s natural production of melatonin, which is a key hormone involved in regulating sleep.
Melatonin levels increase when it gets dark and signal the body that it’s time for sleep, allowing you to nod off more easily and stay asleep for longer.
Instead of watching TV, surfing the web or texting before bed like most people do, spend that 30-60 minute block doing some light reading, listening to an audiobook or using a relaxation technique such as meditation.
Bodybuilding Sleep Tip #4
Avoid going to sleep too full or too hungry.
This one will vary from person to person, but as a general rule, you’ll typically be best off to avoid going to sleep on too full or too empty a stomach.
Consuming a huge meal right before bed will usually make it harder to fall asleep, and a growling stomach obviously won’t help either.
Not only will a small to medium sized meal within a few hours of going to bed allow you to sleep more comfortably, but the accompanying insulin release will also improve melatonin production as well.
Bodybuilding Sleep Tip #5
Keep your room cool, dark and quiet.
Optimize your sleeping environment to create the very best conditions that promote deep, restful sleep…
* Keep your room at a cool temperature of around 60-67 degrees.
* Use blackout curtains or a sleeping mask to eliminate as much light as you possibly can.
* Get rid of sudden background noises that might wake you up by sleeping in a completely quiet room, using ear plugs, or droning out noises with a fan, humidifier or some other type of “white noise” machine.
Bodybuilding Sleep Tip #6
Steer clear of caffeine and other stimulants within 6-8 hours of sleep.
Even if you do happen to fall asleep just fine after an evening cup of coffee or pre-workout drink, the caffeine and other stimulants they contain can still decrease your overall quality of sleep.
If you want to fall asleep as easily as possible and stay asleep, limit your last stimulant containing beverage or supplement to the late afternoon.
Bodybuilding Sleep Tip #7
Include some basic sleep supplements in your plan.
If you have all of the above points covered and still want some additional help to improve your sleep, here are a few research-backed supplements that can help out…
Magnesium: This mineral is heavily involved in regulating sleep quality, and hard-training lifters tend to have lower levels since it is lost through sweat. Go with 200-400mg of magnesium per day taken with a meal, either in the form of magnesium citrate, magnesium gluconate or magnesium dylgycinate.
Lavender Oil: Helps to calm the mind, reduce anxiety, decrease heart rate/blood pressure and put the body into a more relaxed state. Take 80mg about half an hour before bed, ideally in pill form (I recommend “Calm Aid”) to ensure you get the correct dosage.
Melatonin: As we touched on earlier, melatonin is a hormone that helps to regulate circadian rhythm and signals to the body that it’s time for sleep. The standard supplemental dosage for melatonin is 1-3mg half an hour before bed, and you’ll be best to start off on the low end and gradually increase until you find the right amount for yourself.
Side Note: Consistent weekly weight training and cardio is one of the most effective tips of all for reducing the time it takes you to fall asleep as well as overall sleep quality, but since everyone reading this is likely already following a training program of some sort, I didn’t feel that this was a necessary point to elaborate on.
How much sleep should you be aiming for each night?
Although the standard “8 hours a night” guideline is typically a good recommendation in most cases, it ultimately just comes down to the individual and can vary quite a bit from person to person.
My simple advice is to just aim for an amount of sleep each night that allows you to feel fully rested and energized throughout the day without any noticeable fatigue or an obvious need for more rest.
Whether that means 8 hours per night, 10 hours or 5, it really just depends on you. If you have no issues at all sleeping, for example, 6 hours a night, I certainly wouldn’t say that you need to go out of your way to sleep an extra 2 hours if you don’t actually need it.
7 Bodybuilding Sleep Tips: Quick Review
So, here’s a quick recap of the 7 tips we just covered…
1) Maintain a consistent schedule by going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day.
2) Avoid doing work or other “mind stimulating” activities in bed. Reserve your bed for sleep and sex only.
3) Cut off all electronics, such as television, smartphones and laptops 30-60 minutes before bed.
4) Avoid going to sleep too full or too hungry. Consume a medium sized meal within a few hours of nodding off to improve melatonin production and overall comfort.
5) Keep your room cool (between 60-67 degrees), as dark as possible, and eliminate sudden background noises by sleeping in total silence or using white noise.
6) Do not consume caffeine and other stimulants within 6-8 hours of sleep.
7) Supplement with one or more of the following: magnesium at 200-400mg daily (in the form of magnesium citrate, gluconate or diglycinate), lavender oil at 80mg 30 minutes before sleep, or melatonin at 1-3mg 30 minutes before sleep.
Employ some or all of these tips and you should notice a definite improvement in your sleep quality that positively carries over to your fitness program and your overall life in general.
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