Better Sleep = More Gains
If you want to increase your performance in the gym or in life in general, the time spent in your bed could be one of the most important factors.
Everyone can go to the gym and get a solid workout in, but neglecting your sleep can slow your potential for muscle growth.
Sleep is a time for our cells to regenerate and our mind to rest. Our muscles and tissue repair themselves. Better sleep will help increase testosterone and growth hormone levels, which are the main hormones for building muscle.
Sleeping is more than just plopping into bed and closing our eyes, it starts hours before we head to bed.
And there’s many things that affect how well we sleep every night.
In this article, I’ll give you some tips and tricks to get a better night’s sleep to help increase those gains, and what to avoid!
Avoid Electronics And Blue Light 2-3 Hours Before Sleep
At one point or another, everyone’s been a victim of blue light exposure before bed.
Everyone jumps on their computer to do some work, watch youtube videos, or using their smartphone in bed.
While we might not realize it, blue light can be harmful to our health, more specifically our sleep.
Blue light is emitted by electronic devices like TV’s, computers, smartphones, and other electronic devices.
Studies have shown that if we’re exposed to blue light right before bed it messes with our circadian rhythm – our bodies ability to tell whether it’s night or day.
This disrupts our ability to get a good deep nights rest, even if we fall asleep right after putting our phone down.
Remember, deeper sleep is better for muscle growth.
So what’s the solution?
To get the best sleep, avoid any form of blue light 2-3 hours before bed. Turn off the tv, computer, and put your phone in another room.
If this isn’t an option and you really need one of these devices to finish up some important work, I suggest you invest in some blue light blocking glasses.
Blue light blocking glasses will help eliminate over 95% of the blue light by using a filter in the lenses.
I invested in a pair of these blue light blocking glasses on Amazon for only $15 and I’ve already noticed the differences.
I can fall asleep faster, my sleep is improved, and I don’t wake up tired the next morning!
Avoid Caffeine After 5pm
We know coffee and caffeine can help boost your energy levels, but it can also affect your sleep.
Although caffeine is a great supplement that can help get your day going, people have also found that it increases insomnia.
It’s especially important to not take it near your bedtime.
Caffeine is also found in more than just coffee.
Sodas, ice cream, and even some teas have been known to carry caffeine.
Caffeine can also stay in your body for up to 12 hours, so although it’s best to avoid after 5pm, sometimes even earlier is better.
If you find yourself needing to finish up some late night work, avoid coffee altogether. Drink some water or caffeine-free tea you’ll notice you’ll gain some extra energy.
Don’t Exercise Right Before Bed
Like caffeine, exercise is known to boost energy levels and get you going.
This shouldn’t be your goal before heading to bed.
Sleeping is taking the process to wind down.
Take the time to exercise in the early morning. It’ll get your day started off right and you’ll have plenty of energy heading into work or school.
If you can’t work out in the morning try and workout right after work. It’s a great stress reliever and will have you in a better mood when you go home.
And if you can’t workout at any of those times because so pressed for time, workout only around 3 hours before bed.
If that’s not possible, it’s time to figure out your priorities. Get up an hour earlier if you have to, it’ll be worth it and you’ll thank me later.
Don’t Eat Right Before Bed
Eating right before bed will have your body digestion during the middle of the night, and that’s exactly what we don’t want.
Not only will eating right before bed affect the quality of sleep, but it’ll also give you nightmares.
And if you’re someone like me who already has nightmares pretty often, they’ll only be 10 times worse and more vivid.
It can be pretty hard to avoid eating right before bed, especially when you’re really hungry and you know you need to get some extra macros to hit your goals.
But sometimes it’s not worth the risk, knowing how much it can affect your sleep.
The only way you can combat late night hunger is by eating a large and full dinner no less than 3 hours before bed.
Be sure to include some quality protein and vegetables on your plate. Protein and vegetables are both known to help have you feeling fuller for longer periods of time.
If you’re still hungry before bed, drink some water, but not too much – you don’t want to be using the bathroom all night.
Is it Friday or Saturday night?
If there’s drinking involved it 100% will affect your gains.
Even though most people fall right asleep after a heavy night of drinking, it doesn’t necessarily mean its good quality sleep.
Alcohol affects the REM stage of sleep or the deepest part of your nightly rest.
The more you drink, the worse it gets.
If you do go for a night out, try and consume no more than 2 drinks. Be sure to get plenty of water as well.
Not only will alcohol affect sleep but it will also affect your body’s ability to recover muscle tissue.
And it can leave you with a pretty nasty hangover the next day.
If there’s one amazing habit you should apply every night before bed and through your daily lives, it’s meditation.
Meditation before bed helps calm your mind and bring mindfulness. It lets you reflect on your day, whether good or bad, it doesn’t matter.
What matters is that you’re taking a few moments for yourself right here, right now, in order to appreciate life, love yourself, and breathe.
Not only will you feel more relaxed and less stressed, but you put your mind and body into a perfect state for sleep.
A great app you can use for meditation is headspace. There are a million different meditation practices to choose from and they have specific ones for getting a better night’s sleep!
Extra tip: It might be easy to find yourself getting distracted during meditation. It happens to me all the time! This is completely normal, don’t worry. As soon as you find yourself distracted, bring your mind back to your breath.
Avoid Too Much Brain Activity And Stress
Meditation is great because it helps relax you, but there are many other things that increase your brains activity and stresses you out.
The worst thing you can do before bed is getting yourself all riled up and then lie in bed stressing about whatever.
Playing video games is a big no-no. Your mind becomes obsolete and completely focused in attempt to complete a mission or accomplish a goal. You might not realize it, but it stresses you the heck out.
Other stress from your day may have piled up and you might find yourself going to bed frustrated or angry.
A great way to fix this is by putting on some calming music, whatever your choice. Take some deep breaths and express gratitude – knowing how lucky you are to be here in this life.
And if you are still stressed try some yoga and stretching! Yoga is the ultimate stress reliever. It’s generally light activity, so it’s perfect to do this before bed.
Stretching will naturally release all those tense muscles like your shoulders, neck, hamstrings, back, and other places where you carry a ton of stress.
After a few stretches see how you feel!
Avoid Mid-Day Naps
I love a mid-day nap, but I’ve often noticed that napping too long effects my ability to fall asleep later that night.
Napping effects your body’s “sleep drive” or ability to ‘want sleep.’
When we nap during the day our body is timing our sleep. When we go to our beds and night our body knows it’s already clocked in some sleep and tells us we don’t need it as much.
It’s the same as hunger. If you ate just an hour ago, are you going to be as hungry as if you didn’t eat the whole day?
Once again, napping is affecting our body’s circadian rhythm.
Napping for any more than 45 minutes during the day can really mess with your night sleep.
So if you do wish to nap, set an alarm and limit your power nap to around 30 minutes.
Read A Book
There’s a reason why we all loved bedtime stories as kids.
Like meditation, reading a book can really help you relax and settle your brain down before sleep.
It’s also been shown that reading fictional books can help you relax even more since your mind starts to imagine the creativity and otherworldly ideas, rather than to focus on your real life stresses.
Studies also show that reading before bed helps lower stress levels by 68% another huge factor that affects your muscle growth!
Reading helps put you in a calm, trance-like state. Give it a try!
How Much Sleep Do You Need For Muscle Growth?
I recommend 8-9 hours of sleep. Anything more and you’ll find yourself oversleeping and too tired the next day. Too much sleep is also linked with a variety of health problems like diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
Anything less than 7 hours is not enough in my book if you’re training for strength or muscle mass.
Look, training in the gym is hard work, and your body needs as much recovery as possible.
Give it a solid 8-9 hours of rest and you’ll be ready to kick ass the next time you hit the gym.
Can You Build Muscle With Little Sleep? Less Than 6 Hours?
Yes, you can.
Many well-known bodybuilders have been known to only get 4-5 hours of sleep a night, which is not much at all.
Although I don’t suggest you attempt this, sometimes things get in the way of a good night’s rest.
Just aim for 8 hours a night, okay?
Cheers and happy lifting… and sleeping!