The most important thing that you suck at: Sleep
The more research I do, the more clients I train and the more experience I get the more my belief that sleep is the most important thing gets reinforced.
- What do you think of sleep?
- How important is it?
- What functions does it serve?
- How much would you pay for those functions?
Seriously. Think about that for a minute. It's okay I'll wait.
Let's first take a look what happens when you don't get enough sleep.
- aching muscles
- confusion, memory lapses or loss
- hand tremors
- sensitivity to cold
- bloodshot eyes
- periorbital puffiness, commonly known as "bags under eyes" or eye bags
- increased blood pressure
- increased stress hormone levels
- increased risk of diabetes
- increased risk of fibromyalgia
- temper tantrums in children
- symptoms similar to:
- Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder(ADHD)
But what about the benefits of sleep!
Sleep has been linked with pretty much every single benefit you can think of. Learning, focus, memory, strength, endurance, mood, motivation, energy levels, growth, etc are all effected by sleep.
This isn't something that I've come across in theory and now I advocate. I used to have a horrible sleep cycle. The earliest I would go to bed was 2 am and the latest was sometimes as late as the afternoon. I also was fat, fatigued and depressed. All I had energy for was to sit and play video games.
I learned the hard way and it took me a long time to correct my sleep. And now I reap the benefits of it where I feel great, have a ton of energy and am extremely productive.
But Mike, my sleep isn't that bad!
It's true, for most people their sleep isn't as terrible as mine used to be. The reality is though that if you aren't actively working on your sleep then it's not ideal. Maybe it's at 40%, 60% or 70% but if there was something that made you feel massively better, drastically improved your life and made you less fat would you really only do it at 70%? When hitting 100% just means sleeping 1-2 hours earlier?
Sleep is something I'm very much aware of since nights I don't sleep well I see a sharp decrease in my focus and mood. Nights when I sleep great I feel great the next day. So believe me when I say this is based on my first hand experience and our experience with hundreds of clients.
So how do I improve my sleep
Start by following the sleep protocol below, it's something I've developed for myself initially, then later evolved over the years. I haven't seen anybody follow it 100% and still have problems sleeping.
SwolePT Sleep Protocol
- Install F.lux - Seriously just do it.
- Get ~7-9 of night time hours a night. So for example if sunrise is at 6am, then sleeping from 2am -> 10am is 8 total hours but it's only 4 night time hours. Sleeping at night is a big deal.
- Do at least one physical activity a day. If you are sedentary all day your sleep will suck. The more active you are, the better your sleep will be. Computer cut-off time at least 1-2+ hours before bed.
- Stretching/Foam rolling is also important. Not only will you feel more comfortable and relaxed but you'll speed up your recovery and reduce inflammation.
- Be well hydrated. Minimum 2 Liters of day, more if you are bigger/more active. Water is like oxygen to your body and an essential nutrient. So getting dehydrated at night isn't too different than having sleep apnea.
- Don't go to bed hungry. That doesn't mean to eat exactly before bed but your last meal should be within 2-4 hours of sleeping. Your metabolism doesn't shut down when you sleep.
- Spend last half-hour/1 hour reading in bed. Avoid super exciting books that will keep you up for hours. Non-fiction/more technical books work best.
- Most importantly: Take Melatonin 1-1.5 hours before bed - this is the one I recommend. Anywhere from 1.5-12mg is fine, just make sure to avoid light sources, especially blue light. Start at the lower end of the dose and ramp up if needed - I talk more about melatonin and its benefits for sleep/health in this article.
That's mostly it. Seriously though, get to sleep. Try it for a week or so and if you don't get any benefits you can go back to spending those last 2 hours playing
ME3 Diablo 3.