You may have heard the quote ‘if you snooze, you lose’.
I’d argue the contrary, ‘if you don’t snooze you lose’. I can’t stress enough the importance of sleep for you to reach your fitness goals. Not only to reach fitness goals but general health.Believe me, good sleep beats all supplements!
For the last month or so I’ve been neglecting sleep, getting to bed late, I blame Narcos. What an amazing show!
Like I was saying, getting to bed late, ignoring my sleep rituals and not doing any stretching or deep breathing as I usually do. But I was still getting up at 5am for my morning gym sessions, so not being fully rested then had a knock on effect to my energy in the gym and for the remainder of the day.
Then one day it hit me. I never get headaches apart from when my turban is tight, so for me getting a migraine is a huge deal. It only happens when something serious is off and it was sleep. One night I napped for 2 and a half hours before bed and then got up for dinner and then slept for 10 hours straight. Very unlike me, then it dawned on me. I need to sleep with the level of training I’m doing.
Previously it had been a high priority for myself hence the pre bedtime rituals and more recently I’ve been loose and that night it bit me you know where.
As we research more and more into sleep deprivation it really is fascinating.
Like did you know getting 6 hours of sleep for 14 nights in a row gives you the same reduction in cognitive function as someone who has pulled two all-nighters?
Did you know athletes who overslept (9 hours plus of shut-eye) improved tennis serve aces and basketball players increase free throw accuracy?
We also know that lack of sleep (under 6.5 hours) contributes to the secretion of cortisol. The stress hormone, meaning we’ll comfort eat more and naturally store more fat before we even comfort eat. Under sleeping is linked to increased risk of obesity, diabetes, cancer risks and even kills sex drive. You’ll have less testosterone secretion (important for muscle-building) and you’ll naturally store more fat. It’s a fitness nightmare.
It’s literally the gains killer. All of this from something as simple as not sleeping enough.
So what is the ideal amount of time to sleep? Well it’s probably somewhere in the region of 7.5-9 hours sleep. Below 6 hours or sleep is classed as under sleeping and there is such a thing as oversleeping too where similar bad things happen. It’s just not as bad as undersleeping since undersleeping can actually cause death.
It’s not so much the duration of sleep that matters but the quality too. Get yourself into a ritual, set an alarm when to get into bed, leave your window open – a cooler room means better sleep, take a hot bath to unwind, listen to classical music etc. All of these things can help. A ZMA or melatonin supplement can really help with sleep quality too.
If you’re not sleeping enough, you can take all the stimulants, supplements for testosterone or protein shakes you like you really will be facing an uphill battle. It isn’t something that should be pushed aside. Recovery is an underrated part of the journey towards our goals but remember that’s where growth takes place.
Getting 8 hours of sleep each night is far better than any supplement for muscle gains.