The Ultimate Guide to Better Sleep
Sleep is by far one of the biggest performance enhancing practices that most people are sleeping on… or should I say, not sleeping on!
Why is Sleep so important?
When it comes to fitness a lot of people think that when you are in the gym, you are building muscle. Actually, the opposite is true, when you are in the gym, you are actively breaking down muscle tissues, as a result we give our body the nutrients it needs, and then when we rest, we build new muscle tissue and repair the damage we have created.
Sleep is also vital for performance! Statistics show just 6 hours of sleep per night or less, can increase your injury risk significantly, even adding 1 extra hour of sleep significantly reduces the risk of injury. You also reduce you ability to recover and stay sorer for longer as a result .
If you sleep 8 hours or less per night your time to fatigue by up to 30%!!! . That means if you normally fatigue in a run at 10kms, you now start to fatigue at around 7km.
When you rest, you recover!
Heres a fun fact about some of the worlds best sports stars, Roger Federer, sleeps around 12 hours a day (10 at night, 2 hours napping). Usain Bolt sleeps around 9½ -10 hours a night + naps, one of his world records he even set 35 minutes after waking up! Lebron James sleeps around 12 hours a night! Sleep as you can see is a game changer!
Sleep and your fat-loss progress
You might not like to hear this one but there are also links between the ability to lose fat and reduced sleep. One study looked at the difference between a group sleeping 5½ hours per night and the other sleeping 8½ hours per night. The group who slept 5½ hours per night decreased their fraction of weight loss by 55%.
They also saw their hunger hormone ghrelin increase, which lead to increased apetite. Something we want to avoid as much as possible when dieting! .
How Can You Sleep Better
Here’s a list of great techniques to use
1) Hot Shower Before Bed
Counterintuitive yes! I agree, but a hot shower of bath actually causes you to vasodilate and lose heat! Your brain needs to drop around 2°C for you to fall asleep, which is one of the reasons on those hot sweaty nights you struggle so much! Hot showers help you cool a lot quicker
2) Sleep in a Cool Room
Yep, much like the point above, a cool room allows you to nod off quicker, and stay asleep too!
3) Keep it Dark
This tip covers 2 areas. Firstly, make sure your room is dark and theres no extra light about, Investing in a pair of blackout blinds or an eye mask can be literally game changing! Secondly, start to darken your house a few hours before bed, the more lights are off the easier you will find it to fall asleep
4) Sleep Hygiene
A big rule a lot of us break.. even myself right now writing this article, is having screens on late at night, the blue light from screens messes with our natural circadian rhythm making our brains think it’s day time when its not, turning screens off an hour or longer before bed can massively impact sleep! Additionally a pair of blue light blocking glasses may play a small role in helping this too!
5) Sleep Pattern!
The biggest sleep tip from the guru of sleep himself Dr Matthew Walker is keeping a regular pattern. Go to bed and wake up at a regular time, this greatly improves your ability to sleep! Our body’s are highly reliant on routine which is why waking up just an hour earlier or later can seemingly make us feel awfully tired! When we get into a good sleep routine, our body knows when it’s time to wind down and wake up, ultimately improving your sleep overall!
A good idea is to set a bed time and a waking up time and then stick to it, even on weekends! Sure having that extra hour or two in bed on a weekend sounds amazing but you are probably wrecking your energy for the rest of the day, get up and out of bed and relax doing something else.
Book – Why We Sleep – Dr Matthew Walker
Podcast – Joe Rogan #1109 Dr Matthew Walker
Reference List (click here to open)
- Watson, A., Johsnon, M., Sanfilipo, J, (2020) Decreased Sleep is an Independent Predictor of In-Season Injury in Male Collegiate Basketball Players. Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine. Vol 8(11). [Accessed 21/01/21] doi: 10.1177/2325967120964481
- Milweski, M.D., sKAGGS, D.L., Bishop, G.A., Pace, J.L., Ibrahim, D.A., Wren, T.A.L., Barzdukas, A. (2014) Chronic Lack of Sleep is Associated With Increased Sports Injuries in Adolescent Athletes. Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics. Vol 34(2). 129-133. [Accessed 23/01/21] doi: 10.1097/BPO.0000000000000151
- Nedeltcheva, A. V., Kilkus, J. M., Imperial, J., Schoeller, D. A., & Penev, P. D. (2010). Insufficient sleep undermines dietary efforts to reduce adiposity. Annals of internal medicine. Vol 153(7), 435–441. [Accessed 21/01/21] doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-153-7-201010050-00006