I’ve had lots of sleepless nights over the years….when it comes to sleep disruption, I’ve been there…….
…….take a naturally overactive mind, a tendency for a high caffeine intake, add in all the stress/worry/fears that come with age (it happens) and I have a recipe that will keep me up all night, if I let it.
There’s nothing worse than not sleeping……laid there ‘trying’ to sleep, or ‘trying’ to relax, the end result is often anything but……
And what about how you feel the next day after a broken nights sleep?
Every little issue is amplified, you far feel more emotional when tired, & you lose your temper far quicker and a lot easier.
On a practical level of planning/preparing your meals, starting your day in a fatigued state can lead to cravings and a huge instability in energy levels. This will do nothing but disrupt your lifestyle and hinder your progress.
Have you ever tried to cook, from scratch, a balanced and nutritionally sound meal when overly fatigued?
In this tired state the likelihood of reaching for that ‘quick fix’ is far greater, cue the increased desire for the pizza. Hormonally speaking, your body also reaches for these quick fixes for a reason.
Ideally, how you eat should help to stabilize your energy levels and you want to avoid any peaks and troughs throughout the day. A lack of sleep can quickly lead to a downward spiral if you let it. In turn, this can create a huge negative effect on your mindset, whilst also killing your results in the gym.
Trust me; I’ve been there, sometimes I’m very much still there.
In my experience, most people consider that to improve their health and/or their physique, then they have accepted they need to exercise. They may have also considered that they need to make changes to their eating pattern, but few consider the true application of rest & quality sleep.
Sleep is comprised of 4 main stages, the most commonly talked about/discussed being R.E.M (rapid eye movement). This stage is often associated with dreaming but has also been linked to memory improvement and retention.
I’ve wrote about sleep before, but today I want to give you some practical tips, and share some of things I do to help myself. Listed below is what would be my ideal routine.
First off, if you are struggling to sleep, I would consider looking at quality over quantity. In my opinion, 5-6 hours of uninterrupted sleep will always beat 8 hours of broken & stressed sleep. You need to find your own required amount that leaves you feeling rested, refreshed, and ready for your day.
1) Have a ‘cut off’ point for caffeine intake during the day. I try to make this 5pm, for yourself you may wish to make it earlier in the day.
2) Make your last main meal of the day balanced. What I mean by this is have meal that contains protein, carbohydrate & fat. Carbs help to release serotonin; these are the ‘feel good’ chemicals that help you relax.
Note: if you are struggling with sleep & you are on a low carb diet, this could be why. If you are concerned about overdoing your carb intake for the day, just reduce the amount from another meal throughout your day. Rice/Beans are an ideal choice, as is a bowl of porridge. This may seem strange or potentially go against what you have been led to believe, but if what you are currently doing isn’t helping, perhaps its time for change?
3) Depending on when you consume the previously mentioned meal, consider having either cottage cheese or Greek yoghurt (Fage would be my suggested brand of choice) about 1 hour before bed. If you are genuinely full/not hungry, don’t do this, don’t force it, doing so wont help.
4) Read a book 30 mins prior to going to sleep opposed to TV or scrolling through your IPhone or IPad.
5) Drink Chamomile tea whilst reading your book.
6) OPTION: you may wish to supplement with ZMA. This is taken orally and consists of Zinc, Magnesium, & Copper. These minerals can help your body to relax/combat stress. I have found this has helped, not necessarily to ‘get’ me to sleep, but to maintain my sleep.
5) Get your bedroom as dark as possible, think batcave!
6) You may wish to download some relaxing sounds. There are many apps available. Select one that can be played on timer, I personally opt for rain/thunderstorms.
Note: if you choose to do this on your IPhone, place the phone face down, & turn your phone to airplane mode. Extra note: set your phone to ‘night mode’ from 5pm.
7) Experiment with wearing an eye mask. This is something I’d never done until it was introduced to me last year. Whilst you don’t want to get reliant on wearing one every night of your life, and it may not be the sexiest of items, it may help you, as it has me.
8) If you wake up with a sudden panic or fear, try to remain calm. This is normal, we all have these moments, if it is worry that has awoken you, try writing it down. Don’t use your phone, use pen & paper; leave it by your bedside.
9) If you do wake up, don’t look at your phone or turn it over to look at the time. This will only add to your worry, and create further tension as you start to mentally ‘count down’ the hours until you have to be up.
If your sleep or lack of is becoming a real issue, there is absolutely no shame in going to see your doctor. I’ve done it myself. It’s important to address any issues you may have, not doing so will hold you back, not only in the gym but in all other aspects of your life.
Try some of the above practical tips first, see how you get on. I hope they help, let me know.
Until the next time,
Tristan ‘sleep tight; don’t let the bed bugs bite’ Buttle.