We touched on how much sleep you guys should be aiming for in yesterday’s video. To reiterate, that’s 7 – 8 hours of sleep each night, but we’ll try and unpack how this works specifically for you in this email.
I’m sure it seems like we bring up this point every week, and that’s probably because we do! Sleep is extremely important, and it only gets more important when you start training. No matter if your primary goal in the gym is building muscle or losing fat, the amount and quality of sleep will affect both, whether that’s a positive or negative effect is up to you.
We’ll list some main reasons why sleep is important, this could be a huge list so we’ll mainly stick to the ones that are relative for training and overall wellbeing:
1. Muscle Recovery
– If you aren’t recovering properly then you won’t be able to build any muscle. On the other hand if you’re under-slept and trying to lose weight, your body will elevate cortisol and make your body store fat, which is definitely not what we want.
2. Hormonal Balance
– Sleep is crucial for your hormone regulation. If you’re training, you need to maximise the amount of growth hormone and testosterone in your system while minimising cortisol to see the best results, and proper sleep will help with that.
3. Mental Focus, Clarity and Improved Mood
– No brainer here!
4. Greater Strength and Energy Throughout the Day
– This is an obvious one too!
So we all know the benefits, but how do we make a change to our sleep and make sure it improves? We’ve established that we should be aiming for 7 – 8 hours of sleep per night, however, some people report feeling better, (or at least functional) on considerably less sleep. Since everyone is a little bit different it can be difficult to pin down the exact amount of sleep we need – but this is trying to solve the wrong problem.
We should instead place our focus on when we go to bed, and how to make the quality of sleep better overall.
Sleeping from 2AM – 10AM is 8 hours, but your circadian rhythm is way out of whack with a 2AM bedtime. There are set times for our sleep schedules, and unfortunately, we can’t beat a hardwired biological process that says the best time to fall asleep is around 11PM, with a wake up around 7AM, give or take 30 minutes to 1 hour.
For some people in more extreme work/family situations, this is going to be impossible to get, but it is still worth having the knowledge so that when the opportunity arises where you can start a healthier sleeping schedule, you will be better equipped to do so.
The other way to improve your quality of sleep is to limit light exposure and highly stimulating activity before bed. We should be aiming to turn off our tech and dimming our lights (specifically blue light) one hour before bed.
To wind down during this hour, you can incorporate night time activities like reading a book or listening to music, instead of looking at screens.
This will maximise the quality of your sleep, which is just as important as the amount of sleep you get!
To sum up, sleep is as important as everyone says. So make sure you’re getting enough quality time asleep and setting up your body for the most amount of success both with daily life and inside the gym!