What if I told you that if you slept more, and had a better quality sleep, you could lose more weight, build more muscle and make more and better progress with your fitness goals? It sounds like a no brainer, right? We’ve always been told about how we need to get a good sleep nights sleep, and how much we need every night (about 7 – 9 hours depending on the person) but do we know all the awesome benefits we can get from having better quality sleep? A good sleep helps your body which ultimately helps you to fast track towards the results you want. The more you focus on sleep quality the better your body will be able to repair itself, recover, increase it’s metabolism, regulate hormone function and aid in memory storage, just to name a few. Today I’m sharing my 5 tips that will help you have a better nights sleep.
Now this is a technique I’ve only recently been using. It was a technique suggested by a very famous and knowledgeable guy from the Crossfit industry who is very focused on recovery and mobilization. His name is Kelly Starret, and he talks about a simple tip to help you relax and to give yourself a massage before you go to bed. He talks specifically about gut smashing and it’s become very popular. No, it’s not as bad as it sounds – it’s simply rolling on a ball (like a small squishy deflated basketball or a big tennis ball) and rolling it on your stomach. We don’t realize how much tension we hold in our stomach and when we roll it out it helps trigger something called the vagus nerve. So when you roll out and relax the vagus nerve it sends a signal to your brain telling you to relax. If you don’t have a ball you can even use your hands to self massage your stomach, just pushing all over it and breathing out will help you relax. Doing this will prime your body into going to sleep and help your body to relax. I suggest you try this technique. It doesn’t even have to be massaging your gut. Try to massage other parts of your body using a foam roller or ball on any other tight areas you may have. Just doing something this simple to help the body relax will provide a positive outcome.
Switching off electronics
This tip seems pretty obvious yet we still hardly take notice of it, because most of us like to unwind by watching TV, or use our evenings to check emails. However we don’t realise that electronics have a huge influence on our sleep. Electronic screens put out a blue light frequency which simulates the light from the sun and simulates to your brain that it’s still day time. When you are using your iPhone/mac/PC or watch TV the artificial light still tricks your eyes and tells your brain it’s still daytime. This stops your brain from releasing melatonin. Now I know that just telling you to turn off your T.V or computer at night isn’t very realistic advice, so I suggest installing a program called F.lux onto your computer. This program changes the screen colour of your computer, reducing the blue light frequency and transmitting a more relaxed colour tone. You don’t get that harsh light that you normally would. I also recommend turning the brightness of your iPhone down to the lowest it can go before bed to also reduce harsh light frequencies. If you want to take this one step further (like I do) get yourself a pair of blue blocking sunglasses for $20 and wear them when it starts to get dark. These blue blocking sunglasses are going to help block off all the external lights that are in your house. When you put these on at about 6 o’clock your body begins to produce melatonin, help your eyes relax and starts getting you into a calmer state of mind. Blue blocking sunglasses have become one of the best things that I’ve invested in in order to help me get a better night’s sleep and have better quality of sleep. They make my eyes feel really relaxed at night and I know using these and F.Lux have been the big contributors to my restful nights.
Magnesium is a great supplement to take at night time. Magnesium has shown a lot of benefits for not only sleep, but lowering cortisol, relieving insomnia and muscle relaxing – just to name a few. I suggest the best thing to do is to have magnesium an hour before you go to bed. It will help to calm your nerves and help your muscles relax, helping the body to just really start winding down. It’ll make your mind more calm and get you ready for sleep.
There are many ways you can supplement with magnesium. You can take pills or use Epsom salts when you have a hot bath; just see what works best for you. However if you’re going to take a pill supplement make sure you don’t buy magnesium oxide because the body can’t absorb it, and there is nothing worse than buying a supplement that doesn’t work. You could even buy a ZMA (Zinc and Magnesium) supplement which has proven to be very helpful also.
Make your room a cave
Your room should be set up to be like a cave, and the reason I say this is because of the research done on how we used to live and how we used to sleep. Since we still carry the genes of our ancestors we should try to sleep like them too. You want to focus on your room being cool; not freezing, not overly hot, but pretty cool. Cool enough that you’re not going to need to sleep with a blanket, be wearing winter pajamas and covering yourself in a huge doona. It needs to be cool enough where you feel comfortable enough to sleep in a pair of loose clothes and a blanket. I also suggest blacking out your windows because the darker you can have your room the better it’s going to be able to replicate pitch black. You can get yourself some cheap blackout curtains from KMart. If you don’t have black out curtains, and only regular ones, try to black out as much light as you can. If you can’t black out your room I suggest using a sleep mask to help block out any excess light. The darker and cooler you can make your room right the more it will replicate a cave and the better sleep you’re going to have. If you live on a busy street buy yourself some earplugs to block out all of the extra sound because sometimes the traffic is just too loud. I found I need some for where I live so I use earplugs, a sleep mask and also turn on my fan just for some white noise.
Having our bedtime routine
Last but not least is having a bedtime routine. Putting a routine together by using tips I’ve spoken about will be the best thing you can do. Do you remember when you were a kid and you had a bedtime routine? Shower, brush your teeth, get into bed and your parents would read you a book? How easy was it to fall asleep? We need to get a bedtime routine back into our lives. Something as simple as having queues that prime our body for bed, like having a shower, then you cleaning your teeth, then turning off electronics, then popping a magnesium supplement and reading. Something along these lines is going to prime your mind and body before bed and is essential for winding down. Once you start to put this routine into place your body is going to naturally get tired. For me, my body knows that at 9 o’clock I’ve had dinner, turned off my computer and will be reading a book and it will start to help me nod off and fall asleep. I’m not getting stimulated from watching T.V or anything else that could be keeping me awake. I’m ready for bed and I’m actually tired. Remember, a good quality will result in muscle recovery , increased metabolism and so many other benefits. Having a bedtime routine means you will kickoff your melatonin production and get you the quality of sleep you need.
What I suggest you do is start with just one of my simple tips. Is it going to be massage before bed? Or is going to be taking a supplement before bed? Your goal is to pick one tip and try it for two weeks. It doesn’t have to be every single one of these tips, but the more you put in place the better quality sleep you’re going to have and the better results you’re going to achieve. Whether you’re trying to burn fat, build muscle or just improve your health, sleep is one of the most important things you can do. Comment below about which of these tips you’re going to do first.
Stay strong live long.