We all love to sleep, don’t we? But more importantly, we need sleep just as we need food. The average person is worth nothing after being awake for 48 hours. In my opinion I view sleep as priority number #1, diet #2 and training #3. If you lack quality sleep, you will lack the cognitive strength to make rational and smart choices with regard to food intake which leads to impaired training routines. How much sleep is optimal? That varies per person. And it varies if you are deprived of sleep for a period of time and your age. This blog won’t go into the nitty gritty details of what happens neurologically but the emphasis is more on sleep ‘hacks’ (although I despise to use that word).
Good sleep is important however for the production of testosterone and growth hormone. Quality sleep maintains insulin sensitivity and it improves memory and performance. Not a bad list for just lying in bed I would say…
Here are some things that might help you win the night. And day. But is doesn’t matter what you know, its what you do with it.
Put some money aside and invest in a really good comfortable bed. This one is kind of mandatory. Even if you are in college.
Find your optional cardiac rhythm and sleep ritual and stick to it. Meaning that you have a sleeping route that you follow strictly. This also means that you should opt to consume your meals at frequent times. Our body craves routine. Experiment and try to find your optimal frequency.
Make your room as dark as possible and as quit as possible.
Basically, you want to sleep in a bat cave. Try to get black curtains
that are as thick as possible. I personally use wax balls to make
sure I don’t hear anything. They cost around €2.5. (Top Tip)
Don’t look at any screen 1 to 2 hours before going to bed. Almost everybody knows this but we still neglect this important point. The light coming off the screen seriously impairs melatonin production. If you ‘must’ use your cell phone or laptop, I suggest downloading the free Flux app. It will reduce the blue light and makes the colours less bright.
Coffee. Most of us love this potent brew. But use it when you need peak performance. Meaning, time the consumption when you really need it. It can be for finishing your task lists or that hard-core training that you’ve been waiting for all day. But try to avoid it at least 4 hours before you go to bed.
Taking magnesium before going to bed. Sleep deprivation can deplete the body’s natural magnesium stores. Which in turn decreases strength and performance. You can try to get enough magnesium via food intake or supplement it.
Read books before going to bed. This will help reduce cognitive chatter. Some say to try to avoid intellectual books, but personally I think that’s total B.S. Always read the best books you can find. Currently I’m reading Fooled by randomness by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Very good read.
Eat your carbs before going to bed. The science about this is that carbs produce the neurotransmitter serotonin. This will make you calm and feel sleepy. And carbs reduce the stress hormone cortisol. Basically you want to have elevated cortisol levels during the day and decrease your cortisol at night before going to bed.
I don’t make this stuff up. I just regurgitate the literature that I study, test and see what works and what doesn’t work. Just experiment for a couple of weeks and see if anything improves. But most importantly, have fun while doing it.
I like to think in terms of ying and yang. If ying is the oil than yang is the fire. You can light up the fire but you will run out of oil if you don’t pay attention. Sleep can refill your oil.
Talk to you next time and enjoy the ride
Ruud - Co-Founder Pulve