Getting a good night’s sleep is a critical element of any good fat loss or muscle building journey. Sleep is also one of the things that our personal training clients struggle to achieve and maintain. Work hours, stress, kids, life responsibilities all take their toll on your ability to fall sleep and stay asleep. There are things that you could be doing that are jeopardising your ability to get some shut eye, that can affect your ability to burn body fat or build muscle mass.
We have listed 3 tips you can implement tonight to help you set yourself up to get a good night’s sleep.
1. AVOID CAFFEINATED PRODUCTS LATE IN THE DAY
Caffeine is a stimulant that increases adrenaline production by the adrenal glands and trigger the body’s ‘fight or flight’ response. This is a stress response by the body that results in a heightened sense of awareness, focus, attention, and it reduces the effects of fatigue and drowsiness. If you’re trying to fall asleep, the last thing you want is to be highly alert, so avoiding caffeine in the afternoon and at night is a smart move to ensure you are capable of falling asleep.
2. IF POSSIBLE, AVOID TRAINING LATE AT NIGHT
Training, particularly with great intensity, will ramp up the body’s production of cortisol in response to the stressors induced by training. One of cortisol’s main functions is to increase the breakdown of energy sources (used as fuel) during times of higher energy demands. This will increase feelings associated with being alert and energised, something that is not conducive to a good night’s sleep. In order for you to become tired and fall asleep, you need to lower the levels of cortisol in the body to allow the natural sleep process to take place. Increasing cortisol late in the afternoon from training or other stimulants or stressors will interrupt the body’s natural ability to fall and stay asleep.
Not everyone has a schedule that allows them to train in the middle of the morning or during the day, so if late afternoon is your only option it would be beneficial to have some systems in play to help prevent any restlessness at night. Cortisol blocking foods and supplements can be of benefit (post workout) to nullify its effects. Sleep inducing food combinations and supplements could also provide support for sleep. Meditation or calming activities after your workout can also help wind you down and prepare you for a good night’s sleep.
3. REDUCE SCREEN TIME 2 HOURS BEFORE SLEEP
Your body keeps an internal ‘clock’, known as the circadian rhythm, designed to keep track of the changes from day to night. At different times of the day the body is required to conduct different chemical processes in response to what this internal clock says. For example, the body should naturally decrease cortisol and increase melatonin at night to help produce feelings of tiredness and induce sleep. In the morning, the body should have decreased levels of melatonin and increased levels of cortisol – to wake you up and provide feelings of energy and alertness. This is an example of the circadian rhythm.
One of the ways your brain calibrates your circadian rhythm is through the exposure to blue light. When your brain senses volumes of blue light, it provides an indication to the brain that it is currently day time. The body should conduct processes related to energy production, alertness, and wakefulness. Once the sun sets and the environment becomes dark, there is less blue light that can be detected and will indicate to the brain that it is night time. The body should conduct processes associated with sleep and restfulness.
The issue with phone screens, laptops, and television screens is that they emit blue light which will be detected by the brain. If your brain is detecting blue light rays at night time, the brain will become tricked into believing that it is currently day time and will prevent the natural response of inducing chemical processes in the body that will help you fall asleep. This will throw off the body’s natural circadian rhythm potentially making it harder to get to sleep and also making it harder to wake up and feel energized in the morning.
In summary, sleep is vital to a successful body composition transformation and performance in the gym, it is something that should be prioritised and optimised. These 3 tips can be implemented right away to make sure that you are doing the right things to set you up for a good night’s sleep. It will potentially improve your fat loss, muscle building, strength, and overall health and wellness.