By Myprotein Writer |
We all get it, we all wish we could have more of it. Of course I’m talking about sleep!
So why is sleep so important?
The honest answer? There are quite a few education hypothesises. Some say it is the bodies way to preserve energy, but if you do the maths you will find you only save around 50-110kcals from being asleep.
Another theory is brain processing and memory consolidation, where we learn tasks and we can recall them. The most common and recognised hypothesis is that sleep is the bodies regeneration and recovery cycle as certain hormones and chemicals are only released by the body during this state.
More Sleep = Better Health?
Sleep plays a huge role in body composition & health. Poor sleep has been shown to effect testosterone and even have a negative effect on insulin metabolism!
In the 1950’s, we had an average of around 8 hours of sleep a night. Today, we average between 6-7 hours sleep a night and for a shift worker it could be even less – 5.8 to be exact, according to the National Sleep Foundation Polls.
This could be put down to a number of things but the most common is increased in shift working, work/home stress, caffeine and dietary habits. This all causing disruption to our bodies circadian cycle – which is the cycle of cortisol and melatonin.
Although cortisol is the main hormone released as a reaction to stress, it is not an evil beast – it has its place and a job to do!
Increased cortisol in our body naturally wakes us up due to a surge of energy reacting to the ‘fight or flight’ mode – whereas low cortisol at night will help us drift off to sleep. But most people find that they are the opposite way round they struggle to get up in the morning (low cortisol) and have to use the worlds most popular stimulant – coffee – to get them going. This is usually followed by struggling to go sleep at night (high cortisol).
This is a neurohormone secreted by the pineal gland that the body use to help you fall to sleep in the circadian cycle.
Although produced by the body, this hormone can actually be purchased in supplement form to aid a better nights’ sleep for those that have particularly high cortisol levels.
8 Tips For A Better Sleep
One of the first things I do with people that I’m working with is look at their sleep. Why? Because if I can get them to increase their quality of the sleep, they can recover quicker and be prepared to complete everyday tasks with efficiency and even train again.
Here are some tips that I employ to aid this:
1) Reduce caffeine intake
This can be throughout the day – from coffee to tea and energy drinks. Don’t consume any after 4pm or within 6 hours of going to sleep as it can stay in your system for that length of time.
2) Be strict on sleep
Try and get to sleep before 12pm ideally 9-10pm aim to get 8 hours sleep.
3) Develop a set routine
State the time you our going to bed ie. 10pm – 6am this will help establish a routine.
4) Remove distractions
Ensure the room is dark. It has been proven that light pollution can cause disruptions in circadian rhythm ( mobile phones, tablets, TV, Laptop) limit all contact with artificial light for 30mins prior to bed.
Reduce exposure to blue light as it has a stimulatory effect on the brain. Blue light is omitted from- electrical devices such as iPad, TV, Phone etc. if you need to burn the midnight oil there is an application called F.Lux that will automatically shut off the blue light.
5) Morning routine
On weekends don’t go to bed late or sleep in. The body will react like its jet lag. You will mess up your routine and it will take you a few days to get back into the habit. It may be difficult at first – but like anything, your body will adapt and thank you for it later!
6) Avoid burnout
Ensure you are not over-training as this will affect your sleep pattern due to effecting cortisol (stress) levels.
Supplements for Improving Sleep
The most common bodybuilding supplement contains zinc, magnesium and vitamin B, it has been show to help boost our hormones levels and it is hypothesised to maintain healthy cortisol levels.
Also, most people are deficient in all of these substances which if brought back up can lead to a greater hormonal environment.
An amino acid 5-Hydroxytryptophan which is a precursor to serotonin. Serotonin has influencing properties with sleep wake cycle, mood and feeling of well being.
Calms nerves and relaxes muscles, aiding in sleep. Most of us are deficient in this mineral especially the training population, so it’s good to add pre bed to help calm us down.
Can remedy daytime drowsiness and improving overall well-being. This will have a knock on effect that can aid sleep. Best to get Vitamin D levels check.
helps tryptophan in your body convert to niacin and serotonin. This helps regulate sleep and increase REM.
This has a soothing and calming effect. It also acts as a very mild natural sedative!
(As mentioned above) A neurohormone secreted by the pineal gland that the body use to help you fall to sleep in the circadian cycle.
Take Home Message
In conclusion sleep is the elixir of life, if we can get the right balance of sleep we can perform to our optimal standard.
Our bodies will function as they should which means we can complete everyday tasks with clear cognitive thoughts and ease.
During sleep we release essential hormones that will help develop our physique and aid with losing unwanted body fat!