"I'm not a morning person."
"I don't know how you wake up that early."
"You go to bed at what time?!"
I hear all this shit, alllll the time. Here's the thing: YUP! I will absolutely get my but in bed at 7pm if I need to. I DO NOT fuck around with my sleep. Anyone who knows me knows...I will sacrifice almost anything to get my sleep. Sorry to my lovers and friends, but they learn to understand.
Sleep should be the top of our priority list, guys, and there's many reasons why, especially when it comes to fat loss.
That's why, at Acadami Fitness, your first "assignments" are always 1) water; 2) sleep; 3) move! Drink a gallon of water a day, sleep 7-9 hours a night, move (walk) 40-60 minutes every day.
That is always goal 1, before we even discuss the gym or macro plans, etc...
So, Let's get nerdy 'bout it!
First off, the majority of American adults do not get enough sleep much less enough, adequate sleep.
Studies show that 1 in 3 Americans only get 6.5 hours of sleep a night and only getting 6 or less (or over sleeping, getting 9 or more each night) has been shown to lead to twice as much weight as those getting 7-9. It has also been shown that getting less than 7.5 hours of sleep a night was linked to diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and sudden cardiac death. Sleep is fucking important you guys, to your overall like living and shit, to your foundational health, to your fitness goals (losing fat and gaining muscle).
Negative outcomes linked to lack of sleep:
Low energy/fatigue; grumpiness/negative/depressed like mood; lack of focus; memory loss/"sluggish" recall; difficulty learning; increased hunger;
Positive outcomes linked to proper sleep:
More fat loss, more muscle gain; improved mood; higher productivity, focus, and memory ability; more energy = better workouts = more results, faster; better hormone production and digestive function; decreased levels of hunger and cravings;
I have personally seen and experienced water, sleep, diet, and exercise change so many lives for the better including insomnia symptoms, depression symptoms, anxiety/OCD, and more.
What is sleep for in the first place?
It's not just to chill out. During sleep our bodies are super busy actually! This is when our brain is able to sort and store, file our experiences and memories from that day. This is why when you sleep well, your recall/memory is better; your productivity goes up; focus is better. Because sleep is a great aid to "decluttering" your brain. During sleep, good sleep anyway, our Cortisol levels are lowered and we remember our friend Cortisol as the funky little hormone that likes to store fat for us, especially around the mid section.
Now, yes, genetically there are some people more built for late nights/days and others built for early BUT anyone can train their bodies to do ANYTHING. With routine and consistency, you can train your brain and body to do what you need it to. This means, if you work over night shifts - yes, you can get on a schedule and routine but you'll need to work at it.
Myth: 1) that you can "catch up" on sleep - well, that's not totally a myth, but it gets abused. If you do things like power nap, this is not a terrible thing and you will fall into the sleep you need but you don't want to over do it or you'll feel even worse...I'll explain sleep cycles in a sec. Also, people like to sleep 4 hours all week then 12 or more on the weekends, although this is better than 4 hours every night including weekends, it's not ideal and no, sleep is not like roll over minutes where you can stash/trade it.
So what else does sleep do for us? During sleep we release growth hormone which helps to heal our muscles (effectively leading to more fat loss); lack of sleep has been linked to decreases in that hormone production, decreased thyroid activity (metabolism), lowered insulin response, and increases of leptin which is the hormone that tells us we feel full but increases in ghrelin which tells us we're hungry. Not to mention that most of us don't eat while we sleep so we are getting that benefit to fat loss. The more hours we are awake, the more we will want to and potentially will eat.
Quality Vs. Quantity
Now, I know what you're going to say, "but Ami, (I work, I have kids, I whatever the fuck) and I can't get that much sleep." Fair. I hear you. Now, there are some instances where it's like, "Dude, how about you skip after work happy hour that leads to drinking until 11pm every week," or "how about you don't spend all evening binge watching shows until 12pm." There are a lot of lifestyle choices that we make daily that are not helpful for our healing. Those are excuses. I don't do those. However, work and things do happen and those are legit reasons that you may struggle with sleep, as well as medical conditions and things like that. With those, we take a look at the time you do have and how we can make more for sleep and/or how we can increase the quality.
So, goal 1: 7-9 hours of sleep a night, every night. If not, 6.5 or more of HIGH quality sleep. How do we know if our sleep is high quality? Let's talk sleep cycles:
The average to get through a full sleep cycle is about 90 minutes and we want as many of those as possible every night. 5 would be bomb, which is why we say 7+ hours.
Stage 1 & 2: super light, muscle activity slows (you feel relaxed), breathing starts to slow, temperature starts to drop a bit, maybe you twitch a little here
Stage 3: Deep sleep begins: your brain starts moving into Delta waves, further muscle relaxation
Stage 4: Deep sleep: rhythmic breathing, Delta waves, limited muscle activity - this is the, "Oh, she out" level
Stage 5: REM (rapid eye movement), increased brain waves, dreaming, heart rate increases and breathing is rapid and shallow - - - here is when your brain is working, your body is working...basically, the computer that is your brain and body combo, the night shift is on duty now and getting to work. The more REM sleep we can get, the better.
One thing I always ask clients about sleep is, do you dream? Not, "do you remember your dreams" or lucid dreaming, but just, do you dream at all. Dreaming occurs in the REM stage, so even if you don't remember what it was about, dreaming and drooling are good signs lol
Tips to get better sleep
1. Keep your room COOL and DARK
- 62 - 68 degrees is ideal
- As little light as possible, no night lights or tv on 90 minutes before sleep; get black out curtains;
*Take your phone out of your room and cover any light from your alarm clock, some people put towels by the door to cover light from another room in the house; cooling pads can be used as well if someone you sleep with is not down for the cooler room (even though they would benefit from it too, just saying).
2. Consistency, even on weekends! Go to bed at the same time and get up and the same time every day, yes, weekends too! Your body and brain like habits and repetition, they will respond well over time.
DO NOT SNOOZE. You will regret it, just get your ass up.
3. Have a routine:
- Have a bed time routine of shutting down the phone and tv, maybe reading (reading an actual book lowers cortisol); get into PJs, put on some lavender..anything you do to send the signal to your brain and body that it's time to wind down. - - - "night caps" do not work here and alcohol negatively impacts your sleep cycles. You may be unconscious, but unconscious and sleeping are different things, remember that!
- Make sure you're not going to bed hungry, save some calories for a Level 1 shake right before bed and your body will thank you.
4. Supplement support: 400mg of Magnesium is great right before bed to help relax your muscles (suggested dosage may vary, always talk to your doctor before adding/stopping any supplementation); Valerian Root can help assist with sleep; beware caffeine and fake sugars during the day! Caffeine has an 8 hour half life (even decaf has some) and artificial sweeteners like in diet soda have shown negative impacts to sleep because they do have a glycemic response. Beware of what time you are drinking coffee, tea, energy drinks, pre-workout. Even some other supplements we may take like Harmony that I take or Essential Amino Acids do have a little bit of caffeine and can effect sleep. Hit me up so we can take a look at your day.
Supplements I have used, both are natural ways to get your body into a relaxed state (lower cortisol levels, relax muscles). Both have ingredients deigned to support higher quality sleep and get you into REM faster, longer.
- Core 21: has digestive enzymes that can help further aid in fat loss; decreases natural cortisol production to get you ready for sleep. Click here to check it out: Core 21
- Night T (stands for night Time, not testosterone btw): has Magnesium, so helps with cramping and muscle relaxation; supports more growth hormone production; has a smidge of melatonin to get you into sleep. Click Here to check it out: Night T
*Dosage varies for people here and different people like either one for, we all respond a little differently.
- - Many people have noticed that they can actually get less hours of sleep while using these products and wake feeling refreshed and energetic thanks to the higher quality sleep, this is good! You do not have to get the quantity or amount of hours per say, if you are feeling great and rested and recovered and your sleep is high quality.
For example, not taking either one of these, I sleep about 9 hours a night very nicely when I don't have to work. During work though, I can have anywhere from 6-9 hours available for sleep, so on days I know I'll only get closer to 6 or 7, I take one of these. I found with both that I can actually get 6 hours and wake up feeling bomb, of course, this is not ideal over time or sustainable but when it just has to happen, it happens. Remember, too, that I am working out twice a day every day right now, so training does factor into how much sleep and recovery your body will need.
FAQ: "What about Melatonin drinks or pills or what have you?"
I don't suggest Melatonin only because many are dosed way too high and can negatively impact your brain and bodies natural production. Maybe temporarily for some folks, but there may be many other factors in our lifestyle to look at before jumping to supplementation (Night T and Core 21 included). Equally, there are some that are basically placebo pills, so, let's talk about this! I have known many people who have very bad dreams on Melatonin and other sleeping pills. What I will say is this, again, there is a difference between being unconscious and being asleep.
Sleeping pills make you medicinally unconscious, not asleep and healing better.
Your brain will take what it needs but DO NOT fight your brain. If you need to sleep, sleep. When your brain kicks on in the morning, GET UP. Don't roll over, don't snooze, don't go back to sleep...just get up and get moving. Same with napping, you may only need a quick, 10 minute power nap but if you push it to 45 mins or an hour you may hate yourself later.
(side-note: some anti-depressants do effect REM sleep; please consult your doctor before adding or removing any supplementation to your diet if you are taking any medications, including anti-depressants.)
No matter what your goals, guys, SLEEP IS FUCKING IMPORTANT. K, thanks.
You want to know how to get healthier, stronger, leaner?
Drink your water.
Eat good food.
Move your body.
Get your ass to bed!
I want to help you get the results you want, as quickly as possible. That includes your career goals, parent goals, emotional/mental health goals and so on....it's all connected!!
So, send me any questions you have, I would love to help you take a look at your schedule and try to find ways to get you some higher quality sleep.
Love you guys!
NASM Certified Personal Trainer
NASM Youth Exercise Specialization
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