There’s so many discussions in the fitness and wellness space of this trick or that supplement that’s the one little thing you’ve been missing that’s sabotaging your progress. Usually these are pointless gimmicks to get you to spend money on something you don’t need. You want to know what the most over looked thing undermining your progress is? Lean in close because this is important…It’s sleep.
Yes. That’s right, you heard me. It isn’t some special diet, the fact you’re eating carbs after 6pm, or some wrap/pill… it’s sleep. At least 4/5 clients I get have glaring sleep issues. Usually diving deeper into coaching I find most clients say their sleep is fine…but it definitely isn’t. And news flash, lying in bed for 8 hours does NOT equate to 8 hours of quality rest. If you get 7-9 hours of “sleep” but you’re waking up multiple times, tossing and turning in your bed…that is not quality rest.
Sleep is right up there with food and water for the basic necessities of life. Your body can go far longer without food than it can without a good night’s rest. Don’t believe it’s that important? Try not sleeping for 3 days and see what happens!
Undermining true rest isn’t going to just leave you tired…it’s going to effect your ability to perform both in life and in training, causing lower activity levels, effect mental clarity, impact mood, and often cause increases in hunger and cravings drastically undermining your progress! It affects literally every aspect of your life!
Generally, it’s recommended most adults get 7-9 hours of actual SLEEP, not just laying in bed tossing and turning. Getting not only more, but better quality sleep will help SO much. Improve memory, productivity, energy/alertness throughout the day, improve heart health, stronger immune system, better appetite control, drastic improvements in workout performance, and alleviate stress.
You want that magic pill you’ve been looking for? Well…here’s that big secret everyone has been hiding from you…
Get more and better sleep.
Now, you may be asking yourself.. “well that’s just dandy but how the hell am I supposed to do that?” Simply telling someone to “sleep more” wont fix the problem.
Dealing with sleep issues can require a multitude of strategies. You don’t need to implement ALL of these as it’s a lot of options. However, you can incorporate as many as you possible to help optimize rest.
1. Get plenty of bright daylight beginning in the morning. Along with some type of morning exercise. Doing this can help kick start your day along with optimizing your natural hormone cycles to emulate the patterns our bodies evolved being in.
2. No coffee/caffeine (if you drink it) past noon. Caffeine can stay in your system for up to 10 hours and having an active stimulant in your system can be extremely detrimental to winding down at the end of the day!
3. Do some physical activity during the day! but not too late in the evening as that may have a detrimental effect for some.
4. Finish eating around 1.5-2 hours or so before you are planning on going to bed. While eating later in the evening can help keep you from going to bed hungry, if you’re actively digesting a large meal right when you’re trying to go to bed that can negatively impact sleep for many people.
5. Stay off electronic devices and minimize any screen time for 60-90 minutes before bed. Being exposed to blue light from electronics suppresses our natural melatonin production which is a large factor in sleep.
6. Use red-shifting tools on devices after dinner. Night Shift for iOS and f.lux on computers are 2 great examples.
7. Using these will help to reduce exposure to blue light making it easier to fall and stay asleep.
You can also use other strategies to minimize blue light in the evening. Blue blocking glasses are an easy/inexpensive approach. Philips Hue bulbs and controllers can be programmed to shift their light spectrum from blue to red as the day progresses. Or simply dim the lights in your house.
8. A warm shower or bath right before bed can help.
9. Keep your bedroom cool — your body temperature needs to drop in order to sleep, and cooler rooms promote deeper sleep. Around 65° is the sweet spot for most people.
10. Incorporate a stillness practice, such as meditation, into your normal daily routine.
11. If you’re worried about things that you need to get done in the future, write them down and develop a system for working through them. If you have a working system in place your brain doesn’t waste cycles worrying about them.
12. Keep your sleep space completely dark. Blackout shades/curtains, no nightlight, no electronic clock, even eliminate or minimize standby lights on television, computers, chargers, etc.
13. Try herbal teas (chamomile is great before bed).
14. Don’t let your waking/bedtime vary by more than an hour over the course of the week if possible.
15. Avoid relying on drugs/supplements. It might help for a few days but in the long run will just make your sleep issues worse.
And to end it all off, an orgasm is another trick to help fall asleep 😉
What About Supplements?
As with any other issue the human population runs into, the first idea is to turn to a quick-fix rather than implement lifestyle changes. Of course, this is never the best route. As with many things, turning to a pill or drug for these issues can often cause more harm than good. Even something as simple as melatonin which is one of the most popular sleep supplements can be detrimental. In very small dosages, such as 0.5mg, it can possibly be helpful. However, it is often dosed at 3, 5 or even 10mg and this can destroy your natural melatonin production after using just a few nights in a row. This will make it even harder to sleep.
I recommend avoiding most supplements or drugs to sleep and focus on lifestyle changes. Using drugs for sleep and having poor other habits is no different than eating at McDonald’s for every meal and taking a fat burner expecting to lose weight.
That being said, there are a few supplements that can be beneficial for sleep. Of course, focusing on improving every lifestyle aspect you can FIRST is the major key. Beyond that if you’re looking to maximize sleep or there are a few nights per week that you really want to get that extra sleep I would recommend checking out LUNAR by Legion Athletics. This is one of the few sleep supplements I’ve found that is dosed and formulated in a way that’s not only backed by scientific research but also has a very minimal negative impact on natural sleep patterns. However, if you do decide to go this route after optimizing lifestyle strategies, I wouldn’t use it more than 3x per week.
Hopefully you found this information helpful. Now, get off your screen and unwind so you can actually get some sleep!