By now we all know that we need about 8 hours (give or take) of quality sleep per night and with today’s busy lifestyles this isn’t being achieved by most. The truth is we should all be making sleep quality a priority and not just because of our fitness goals, our overall health and well being depends on it.
A lack of sleep has been linked to heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. Sleep is the time when your body repairs and grows new muscle tissue, so if you’re training hard to build a better body then it’s imperative that you get a good nights sleep.
I’ve always been a pretty bad sleeper, but this year I decided enough was enough and it was time to make some changes, below are the five tips that have improved my sleep drastically in the last year:
1. Regulate Your Sleep Cycle
Aim to go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning.Your body’s circadian rhythm functions on a set loop, aligning itself with sunrise and sunset, by being consistent with your sleep and waking times you will improve your sleep quality.
I always aim to be in bed by 10pm and am up every morning at 4am (I know still not enough sleep) and I’m now at a point where I don’t actually need an alarm to wake up, it just happens naturally and I feel great, even at 4am.
2. Reduce Blue Light Exposure in the Evening
Exposure to blue light (emitted from your phone/laptop/tablet) in the evening tricks your brain into thinking it is still daytime, this reduces hormones like melatonin, which help you relax and get deep sleep.
I use glasses in the evening which help to filter out the blue light and use these when I need to work later than I’d like (most nights), but the ideal scenario would be to avoid any devices that emit blue light before bed.
3. Invest In Your Bed
I’d had the same bed for 10+ years and after I/Charlotte broke that bed I decided that I was going to invest in the best of everything, so I bought myself a memory foam mattress, duck feather pillows and Egyptian cotton bed sheets/pillow cases and that has definitely played a key role in my sleep improvement this year.
It makes sense to invest in your bed as you do end up spending so much of your life in it. We’re all happy to drop thousands of pounds on cars, watches and clothing, but in my opinion my bed was my best investment this year (and I bought bitcoin before it went crazy).
4. Supplement With ZMA Before Bed
ZMA (Zinc, Magnesium and Vitamin B6) is a supplement I’ve started using as a recovery/sleep aid. ZMA helps the body to relax, achieve deeper levels of REM sleep and reduce cortisol (stress hormone), it has now become a crucial part of my bedtime routine.
5. Don’t Take On Any Liquids Before Bed
I used to always have a protein shake before bed, because I was scared of losing ‘my gains’ overnight (dork), in hindsight I was worried about nothing and if your protein target is being hit throughout your waking hours you’re not going to shrink overnight.
The fact that I was getting up five times a night to pee probably had a bigger impact on my ‘gains’ than missing a pre-bed protein shake ever would.
I hope these tips can help you to improve your sleep.
Sweet dreams x