By: Matt Weik
How many of you are busting your tails in the gym, drinking your post-workout protein shakes, yet it still seems like your fitness goals are out of reach? Do you leave the gym dripping sweat yet the results just aren't showing from your hard work? Your sleep (or lack thereof) could be the limiting factor and holding you back from achieving your fitness goals.
Your Body Needs Sleep
I get it, you’re busy. We all are. Yet, working off of minimal sleep is doing yourself a disservice. While you might think you’re fine, your body is telling you otherwise. You might be able to fight through what your body is telling you with the help of coffee and energy drinks, but numbers and results never lie.
You’re cutting yourself short if you aren’t getting enough deep, good quality sleep each night. I’m talking about 7-9 hours of it. You might be chuckling that you get that in a total of a few nights, but no one’s laughing about your lack of reaching your fitness goals. Right?
When you exercise, you are taxing and putting stress on your body. The only way to properly fix this is through rest and recovery. Your body makes changes outside of the gym. So, while you are putting in the time and effort in the gym, all the processes of your body are working in the background after you leave to help you achieve your fitness goals. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still exercise with intensity, it simply means you need to be more conscious of your sleep to allow your body the proper time to recover from the stress of the day along with your grueling workout.
How to Get Better Sleep
Some people mention that they aren’t able to get a good night’s sleep. That can be due to many factors. Some of the most common reasons you might not be getting a good night’s sleep are mentioned below along with how to fix them. For the most part, they are very easy fixes and if you’re able to implement the strategies and get better sleep it can absolutely help you with achieving your fitness goals.
One of the biggest distractions at night is technology. Many of us are checking our email, our texts, our messages, our social media. Put it away! It’s not going to help you reach your fitness goals. Trust me, there’s nothing so life-shattering that would cause you to stay up until 2am looking through a social media feed. So, turn off your device, or at a minimum put it on silent so it’s not dinging and buzzing all night long while you’re trying to sleep.
For the majority of us out there, our body can rest better when the temperature of our bedroom is slightly cooler than normal. You can accomplish this by turning down the heat slightly in the colder months, turning on the air conditioner or a window unit in warmer months, or by turning on a fan in the room. When we are hot, clammy, and sweaty, we tend to be uncomfortable – not exactly how we want to be feeling when we are trying to sleep and have sweet dreams of reaching our fitness goals.
Close the blinds and the curtains and make sure your bedroom is DARK. I mean, pitch dark. Even the tiniest amount of light coming into the room can be enough to not allow you to rest peacefully and deeply. If your curtains/blinds just aren't cutting it, my suggestion would be to invest in some black-out blinds or curtains. These specific sets are generally thicker than normal and will help block out all light coming from outside. It should go without saying, but you must get sets that actually fit your window exactly. Any gaps and you will allow light to penetrate into the room.
While noise in the form of music can help you achieve your fitness goals by motivating and pushing you during a workout, any type of noise while you’re trying to sleep will disrupt your sleep patterns and could even wake you up. Now, we all don’t have the luxury of living out in the middle of nowhere, where there is no noise from traffic, construction, neighbors, or the people connected to your bedroom on the other side of the wall if you live in a townhome, apartment, or duplex who sound as if they are going to bust through your connecting wall. If you live in a noisy environment at night, consider some earplugs or some sort of sound machine (like one that plays white noise). This will help drown out any noise that could keep you awake.
While we set an alarm to rise and grind, it might be wise of you to set an alarm for each night when you want to go to sleep. Calculate how much time you want to spend sleeping (between the recommended 7-9 hours). For instance, if you wanted to get the minimum (seven hours of sleep) and you normally wake up each morning at 6am, it would be beneficial to set your alarm at night for no later than 10:30pm. Why 10:30pm? You figure seven hours of sleep would mean you’d need to be asleep at 11pm to get a full seven hours. Getting ready for bed at 10:30pm would allow you to put your pajamas on, brush your teeth or whatever you normally do before bed, and then slip into bed well before 11pm to allow yourself to fall asleep prior.
Have you even been super stressed to the point where you simply couldn’t stop thinking about things which caused you to stay up all night, staring at the ceiling? It happens to plenty of people and is actually quite common. For that reason, you need to figure out how to reduce your stress levels if you’re not achieving your fitness goals.
One way to help better manage stress is to find out what helps you free your mind. Before bed, consider sitting in a quiet room with your eyes closed and simply focus on your breathing. You could even do some meditation or yoga as well.
Another way to reduce stress is to use something like MPA CortiSolve. There are many things that CortiSolve can help you with. Some of them include lowering cortisol levels as well as helping you better manage both mental and physical stress. Check it out as a possible solution to your sleep issues.
If surpassing your fitness goals is a priority of yours, getting enough sleep needs to be too. Implement some of the strategies found above and you will be on your way to a better night’s sleep which can help you with achieving your fitness goals.
Matt Weik, the owner of Weik Fitness, LLC, is a well-respected fitness expert/author with a global following. His work has been featured all over the globe as well as having published numerous books. He is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, personal trainer, and sports nutritionist. Find out more at www.weikfitness.com or on social media @weikfitness.