Article last updated: December 2017 by Oskar Faarkrog, ISSA Certified Trainer
Sleep is the most underrated aspect of transforming your physique and now I’ll give you 6 reasons to why you should get good sleep:
- Increase satiety: Good sleep increases the satiety hormone leptin and reduces the hunger hormone ghrelin.
- Boost testosterone: Good sleep increases your natural testosterone production and testosterone is the main muscle building hormone in your body.
- Improve mental health: Good sleep prevents depression and anxiety and improves memory.
- Boost energy levels: Good sleep boosts your energy levels so you can go full speed all day long instead of half speed.
- Speed up muscle building: Good sleep helps muscles recover faster after hard training.
- Improve metabolism: Good sleep helps you metabolise carbs better. (Blood sugar returns to stable levels much faster after high carb meals).
In other words, good sleep maintains a metabolic and hormonal equilibrium.
Most people have problems with sleep because they go to bed late and wake up early.
The solution to this is three-fold:
First, you need to work hard throughout the day.
Do at least 3 hours of deep work that requires your full mental focus and exercise daily for at least 30 minutes to build up a sweat.
Spend the rest of the day on completing the most important tasks.
The combination of working hard everyday and completing your most important tasks will make you calm and tired at night.
Second, you need set up an environment that is conductive to get deep sleep.
This means that you sleep on a comfortable bed in a cool and pitch black room with good air.
Third, set up a daily reminder on your phone that appears 10 hours before you have to wake up.
The reminder says “Get ready for bed.”
When this reminder goes off, you stop everything you’re doing, turn off all electronics and start getting ready for bed.
By setting up this reminder you’ll have 1 hour to fall asleep and 9 hours to sleep until your waking time.
In addition to the 3 steps above, you’ll want to take a look at the sleeping tips below:
- Stimulants and alcohol: Stop consuming caffeine after lunch and quit alcohol. Both affect sleep negatively.
- Dial in your diet: When you’re on a diet that is too low in Calories you will find it hard to fall asleep because you’re hungry.
- Meditation: If you have a lot of stress and anxiety despite working hard daily, practice meditation for 15-30 minutes everyday to calm your mind.
- Human touch: If you don’t have a partner to sleep with, you lack human touch and that results in a lot of stress and anxiety. To compensate for this, get a massage 2 times per week.
- Blue light: Blue light from your laptop and smart phone trick your mind into thinking it’s day-time. When you’re exposed to a lot of blue light at night, it’s hard to fall asleep. As a result, you want to limit the use of electronics at night and use an app such as flux at night to change the colors of your screen.
So, how do you know if all of this is actually working?
You want to wake up feeling rested without the need for an alarm.
The definition of good sleep is that you wake up WITHOUT an alarm and feel rested.
The only purpose of an alarm is to wake you up before you’re ready to wake up.
The steps above are enough for most of you to optimise your sleep..
However, if you follow the advice in this post and you still wake up to an alarm feeling sleepy, there are 2 potential reasons:
- You have sleep apnea: Sleep apnea means that you have pauses in breathing during sleep and the main symptom is snoring. A very large percentage of the population has sleep apnea, therefore it’s worth it to get a sleeping app for your phone and check for sleep apnea. If you have sleep apnea, you can go to a doctor and order a full sleep test to dial in your sleep 100%.
- You need more sleep: In case you don’t have sleep apnea and you’ve done all of the above, try increasing to 10-12 hours of sleep per day and see if that helps. Some people NEED more sleep than others and you may be one of them.
Finally, I want to point out that roughly 5% of the population can sleep ~6 hours per night without any negative effect because of a rare genetic mutation.
Most people try to be the 5%, but the truth is that your sleep needs are determined by your genetics.
As a result, most regular people need 7-8 hours of unbroken sleep per night and if you’re training hard everyday and growing your muscles, you’re closer to 9 hours of sleep per day.
Don’t try to cut your sleep so you can go half speed all day long.
Instead, use the tips here to optimise your sleep so you can go FULL speed.
Be proud but stay hungry!
Oskar Faarkrog, ISSA Certified Trainer
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