Simple Tips to Improve Sleep for More Strength & Muscle Gains
People, I’m sure you’re aware of this but just in case this tidbit of vital information passed you by, I’m going to repeat it. It’s not the hours spent in the gym that builds muscle, no, when you’re pumping iron you’re actually tearing muscle fibre into little pieces. It's the hours you spend at rest afterward when your body repairs and reinforces your muscle.
So, if you’re looking to find extra time in your busy week to fit in more strength training, the one thing you should never ever cut short is your sleep. Break up with your partner, quit your job, sell your dog, but don’t, whatever you do, sleep less.
In fact, if you’re ramping up your training regime it’s of vital importance that you also increase the amount of time you set aside for rest too. Research has proven that the single biggest indicator of injury among athletes is not how much time they spend training but how much time they spend sleeping. Remember that.
Now, just knowing you should get more sleep and actually being able to do so are two very different things entirely. In today’s modern fast-paced society, getting enough sleep seems to be a challenge for just about everybody.
Well, don’t despair just yet, and please don’t go reaching for a handful of sleeping pills. Sedation is very different to sleep, especially when it comes to how you body repairs itself. Instead, have a quick read of my top three tips on how to improve you sleep quality.
3 Simple Tips for Better Sleep to Gain Muscle and Strength
1. Watch your caffeine
Diet is a hugely important factor in any strength building regime. In order to bulk up, it’s essential to eat enough. That can often mean chowing down on oversized portions and having meals at odd times of the day. What it’s important to remember however is that what we eat and when we eat it can have a big impact on how well we sleep.
For starters, any product that contains caffeine is going to play havoc with how well you sleep. Caffeine has a half life of six hours, meaning that 25% of the caffeine in that coffee or caffeine-enhanced supplement you had a midday is still going to be in your system come midnight. You wouldn’t drink a quarter of a cup of coffee just before bed would you? Then just be wary of your caffeine intake in the afternoon especially.
2. Cut down your evening meal size
Secondly, large protein heavy meals, such as that juicy steak you enjoy so very much, might be great for building up those biceps but they might not be so good as pre-bed meal.
When we lay ear to pillow we want our body to be as relaxed as possible. Unfortunately, large amounts of protein generally demands quite a lot of effort from the digestive system. With all that churning going on down there it can sometimes be quite difficult to drop off. The trick is to give your stomach a little time before bed to get the bulk of the work done. Say an hour at least.
3. Train in the evening
A great piece of research by the Appalachian State University has shown that when you work out has an impact on how you sleep. Let's start with the good news, if you’re working out at all you are likely getting much better sleep than people who aren’t. Any form of exercise is great for sleep but weightlifting in particular seems to be very effective.
Lifters who hit the gym really early, say by 7am or earlier tend to fall asleep much quicker than individuals who lift in the afternoon or early evening. Plus, they fall asleep a helluva lot quicker than non-exercisers.
Individuals who hit the gym later in the evening, say around 7pm took a bit longer to fall asleep but tended to sleep a lot more soundly for the entire night.
What this piece of research seems to suggest is that if you have problems getting to sleep then hitting the gym early could be the solution. If you have issues staying asleep for the entire night, then lifting later could be the answer.
The chief researcher involved in the study, Scott R. Collier has a theory that early lifters tend to have no problems dropping off because they’ve altered their sleep cycle, bringing everything forward slightly. Whilst he hypothesis that muscle fatigue combined with increases in body heat are probably the main reason late lifters sleep so very soundly.
Well, there you have it – three ways in which you can dramatically improve the quality of your sleep and with it give your body the best possible chance to resist injury whilst in training. Time for bed methinks, don't you?