Tired of training hard with little to no results to show for it? Perhaps it’s time to rethink your approach to sleep!
When it comes to rest, it’s no secret that most of us simply aren’t getting the quality of sleep our bodies require to grow, repair and function at their best. So, what’s the big issue? From work-related stress to caffeine loaded diets, sleep – or rather, the lack thereof – is a leading contributor to adverse mental health problems and a lack of progression in the gym. Believe it or not, a lack of quality sleep not only stunts your body’s ability to recover and subsequently to grow after a training session, but it also plays a pretty serious role in impacting energy levels, mental wellbeing, immune health, motivation, cognitive function, weight loss, digestive health, libido and fertility…just to name a few!
If you’re keen to up-the-ante on your sleep and recovery game, check out Australian Sports Nutrition’s top five strategies to improve your quality of sleep in order to optimise your recovery and productivity, in and out of the gym.
- Cut down on caffeine
We just heard a thousand hearts shatter as they read the words “cut down on caffeine”. However, like all things in life, moderation is key…particularly when it comes to caffeine. While caffeine is a hugely beneficial ingredient for enhancing energy levels, cognitive function and ultimately, workout performance, it can have a negative effect when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep.
As a general rule, we recommend cutting your caffeine intake at least 4-6 hours before bedtime. Wondering why? Caffeine has a half-life of roughly five to six hours, which means it will continue to circulate in your body long after you feel the immediate effects. Simply put, a half-life refers to the time required for the amount of any specified property to decrease by half.
But, what does this actually mean?
Let’s say you take a pre-workout supplement loaded with 300mg of caffeine at 5:30 pm to get you feeling mentally alert and ready to take on an intense workout. Believe it or not, by 10:30 pm, as you’re winding down or already in bed, you will still have approximately 150mg of caffeine in your system. While you may not necessarily feel the energy-boosting and focus-enhancing benefits, the caffeine is likely to prevent you from having the highest quality sleep that’s required for optimal recovery. To put this into perspective, you can expect around 95 mg of caffeine in your average cup of coffee!
Trying to cut out caffeine but struggling to keep motivated and focussed in the gym? Try Evolve’s stimulant-free pre-workout formula designed to assist with weight loss and performance, while simultaneously boosting cognitive function. Introducing: Carnitine Rx!
- Control your exposure to light
Did you know that your brain secretes more melatonin when it’s dark, as opposed to when it’s light?
Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone influenced by light exposure that plays an important role in regulating your sleep-wake cycle. Simply put, your brain produces more melatonin when it’s dark, which makes you feel more tired, and less melatonin when it’s light, which makes you feel more alert. While this seems like a flawless system, the reality is that many aspects of modern day life can easily alter the body’s production of melatonin, which ultimately impacts how our body regulates our natural waking and sleeping times.
The solution? Minimise your exposure to artificial lights at least one hour prior to bed. You may have heard about the benefits of switching off all electronics in your room while you sleep, and there is certainly some truth behind it. In this day and age, the artificial light emitted from our smartphones, TVs, laptops, light bulbs and iPads is disrupting our body’s natural cyclical release of melatonin, which impacts our ability to switch off, unwind and relax (three core requirements for a good night’s sleep). If, for whatever reason, you are required to use electronics at nighttime, try the following tips for minimising your exposure to artificial light:
- Opt for a device with a smaller screen
- Turn down the brightness on your devices
- Try not to read with backlit devices
- Avoid late-night television
- Get your carbs in at night
Consuming carbohydrates prior to bed helps to increase the production of the neurotransmitter, serotonin. The result? High levels of serotonin at night helps to soothe your brain into a calm, tranquil and relaxed state, which in turn helps you to enjoy a restful night’s sleep. All in all, the higher the amount of serotonin in your bloodstream at night time, the better quality sleep you’re likely to experience.
We know what you’re thinking…”won’t carbs at night make me fat!?”
Short answer: Nope!
Carbohydrates alone will not make you fat, just like any other food group. However, consuming an excessive amount of calories that exceeds your body’s daily requirements over an extended period of time certainly will. Just like we said earlier, it’s all about moderation!
Let’s elaborate on this point further…
With regards to your carbohydrate consumption, the best way to ensure it fits into your dietary requirements is to plan your intake across the day in accordance with your personal needs. As a rule of thumb, aim to consume 40-50% of your daily carbohydrate intake in the last meal you eat before bed to maximise the benefits of elevated serotonin levels.
- Find your routine
Thought set bedtimes were only for kids? Think again!
Believe it or not, having a set sleep schedule in place may be the difference between you tossing and turning all night long or you feeling well rested and recovered in the morning.
Can it really make that much of a difference? The answer is YES!
Going to bed and waking up at a similar time each day sets your body’s ‘internal clock’, which essentially alerts your brain when it’s time to rest and when it’s time to rise. Sticking to the same sleep schedule every night allows your body to find its natural rhythm and to settle into a regular sleep-wake cycle. It’s as simple as this – If you have an inconsistent sleep schedule that throws off your internal clock, you won’t feel or function your best. In fact, an inconsistent bedtime routine is known to cause irritability, drowsiness, mood swings, memory loss, headaches, and a decline in cognitive ability. Additionally, people with irregular sleeping patterns are more susceptible to experiencing a restless night’s sleep, which means your body isn’t able to enter the deep REM sleep required to restore and repair your brain and body. This poses a very real threat to those who work out regularly, but aren’t getting the consistent sleep they need to repair their muscles overnight!
Top tips for scheduling in a set bedtime:
- Plan out your week ahead and incorporate a set bedtime each night
- Set daily and weekly goals i.e. how many hours of sleep would you like to achieve each week?
- Switch off the TV and turn your phone to flight mode at least 1-2 hours prior to jumping into bed
- Limit your social media time – Scrolling through Instagram can be a serious time waster and an ineffective way to wind down at night
- Supplement with Hyper Sleep
Tired of waking up feeling tired?
Struggling to have a restful night’s sleep?
Sick of seeing your gym results fade away?
Hyper Sleep may be just what you need!
Whether you’re short on time, struggle to change your schedule to incorporate more effective sleeping patterns, or are simply tired of watching the hard work you put in at the gym fade away due to a lack of sleep, Hyper Sleep is a potent sleep aid designed to induce a deep anabolic sleep to enhance muscular recovery through protein synthesis and human growth hormone release.
Why is sleep so important for muscle recovery? A lack of sleep makes it much harder for your muscles to recover, repair and grow post-workout as it slows down the production of growth hormone. Additionally, it also impacts your body and brains ability to function optimally to get the most out of your workouts!