Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you know that Sunday night was the premier of the long awaited final season of Game of Thrones that’ll conclude in 6 short episodes.
Along with all the excitement and buzz that surrounds the show, one of the star’s, Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, otherwise known as Thor to the Strongman world, who also plays the mountain in GOT and is the current World’s Strongest Man, made headlines with his revealing of steroid use.
Although this is no where near a shock to the Strongman or any strength sport community, the internet couldn’t contain itself for the star’s prominent and no apologies given testimony.
I won’t even begin to try and debate as to whether or not Performance Enhancement Drugs are morally correct or cheating. To each their own.
However, I thought I would share my thoughts on the ONE Performance Enhancing and LEGAL tactic everyone should be using to make way better strides in their strength, fitness and health goals.
This ONE thing has been shown to:
- Reduce Stress. …
- Reduce Inflammation. …
- Make You More Alert. …
- Improve Your Memory. …
- Help You Lose Weight. …
- Help Make You “Smarter” …
- Help Reduce Your Risk of Depression.
- Help The Body Repair Itself
- Improve Your Performance Everywhere (in the weight room, more energy, better gains, etc)
You may be asking, what is this wonderful supplement or drug that has all these amazing benefits.
The answer may surprise you because its so simple to implement and you’ll probably think I’m crazy since it’s been at your disposal all along.
Simply put, it’s SLEEP.
Think about it. How often are you always on the Go Go Go without ever allowing your body to fully recover and take the rest that it NEEDS.
Do you realize that if you’re trying to lose fat and aren’t getting enough sleep that you could in fact be putting all your efforts to a screeching halt.
Keep dieting hard, keep training even harder – guess what, without the 3rd component, REST, you’re not going to get anywhere.
If you’re on Facebook or any other type of social media I’m sure you’ve seen a variation of this pic before…
And It’s TRUE! You know that I’m all about putting Intensity behind your Training and Eating Healthy but what you’re probably missing is a VERY Critical component in this equation – SLEEP!
When you don’t allow your body to recover and rest, you are allowing a couple of things to happen that will literally stop you from losing weight. In fact, you will find yourself GAINING weight, and I’m talking FAT gain here…
I mean really, if the scale goes up and your clothes are fitting better, and you’re looking awesome in the mirror then its muscle gain so who the hell cares what the scale says!
I think Arnold says it best here –
But aside from that…
Here are the Top 5 BAD Things That Happen When You Don’t Get A Good Nights Sleep
#1 – You Raise Levels of Cortisol – You have undoubtedly have heard about the negative effects that Cortisol has on the body, especially if you are trying to lose weight.
However, this hormone is necessary and a healthy function of the body such as regulating your metabolism, acts as an anti-inflammatory, helps control the body’s blood sugar levels, helps with memory and controls salt and water balances.
So as you can see, Cortisol is needed to maintain a healthy, functional body. It’s when we have high levels of Cortisol that we see more weight gain. Cortisol is generally high in the early morning and start falling throughout the day.
However, stress can cause these levels to remain high which will eat muscle and increases body fat storage. High levels can also mess with your cognitive abilities, leaving you feeling mentally drained and impair your memory.
Help keep your Cortisol Levels in Check by doing the Following:
- Avoid Stress – I know, in today’s world Stress seems to be a part of life so easier said than done but try to do this with your very best effort
- Keep your workouts Short – 45 – 60 Minutes, TOPS
- Don’t do excessive amounts of aerobic exercise
- Get 8-9 Hours of sleep every night
- Surround yourself with happy people and get away from negative people and negativity as a whole
- Meditate / Pray for 30 Minutes per day. Get out in nature away from it all, take a walk, relax. You need this time for YOU!
#2 – You’ll Eat More Calories – Especially Junk Food. Research from the University of Chicago suggests that lack of sleep changes how the body regulates appetite, leading us to crave more food. You may not only start eating more overall calories but more calories from high fat and comforting carbohydrate foods.
#3 – You’ll Exercise Less – Because of lack of sleep, you’ll skip out on your daily exercise due to fatigue. This of course means less calories burned. Couple this with higher Cortisol and Eating More Calories and it doesn’t take long for the waistline to expand.
If this wasn’t bad enough there’s more…
#4 – You’ll SLOW Your Basal Metabolic Rate – Now you’re really in trouble because you’ll be starting all over with your fat loss goals if you allow all that hard work of raising your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) to come crashing back down. Why is this important? Your BMR is the amount of calories your body burns just to perform its daily functions like breathing and maintaining your bodies normal temperatures. When you raise this you are able to eat more calories, build more muscle and burn more fat – the reverse happens when it lowers!
#5 – You Don’t Build As Much Muscle – When you strength train you break down your muscle tissue (as in damaging it). The body needs to rebuild that damaged muscle and strengthen back up so it can handle the same work load when placed under it again. The only time it has to do this is when it is resting. Rob the body of its sleep and you rob it of its muscle rebuilding capabilities. End result, you become weaker instead of stronger.
Here’s how… More Growth Hormones(GH) are released during sleep than during waking hours. GH is responsible for cell regeneration, reproduction and growth. Again, these hormones are what are responsible for building muscle and as we’ve discussed, the more muscle you build, the more fat you burn due to an increased metabolism.
BONUS #6 – Your Strength & Performance Will Suffer – I already touched on this some in each of the other points but this is where it’ll hit home the most.
Once you start to tire out, you’re muscles are more apt to small injuries, you will fatigue out and your performance will suffer.
Ultimately you’ll have less energy and won’t maintain your goal of living a healthy lifestyle and the weight piles on.
Point Blank – You Need to get adequate rest (SLEEP) in order to do everything else you want to in the gym, whether it is to lose weight, build muscle or perform at your very best.
OK, so this all sounds great right but maybe you’re one of those who has trouble going to sleep and staying asleep.
Here are some Key Tips To Getting A Good Nights Sleep
- Set a Bed Time and Stick To It – Make sure you are getting an average of 8 Hours of Sleep Every Night. Trust me, there is nothing going on that HAS to take your sleep time away from you, (unless you’re a Mother of an infant, I’ll give you that)
- TURN OFF THE TV, cell phone, computer and any other devices that could interrupt your sleep – do this at least 30-60 minutes before bedtime
- Wind down for 30-60 minutes before Bedtime – read a book, turn off the TV, meditate, write in a journal. Practice calming the mind before lights out
- Keep a notebook on your nightstand – Instead of laying there thinking about everything you have to do the next day, write down your to do list for the next day and let it rest along with you. Again, nothing is that urgent that it needs to keep you up or get done at this very moment. Something great psychologically happens when you write things down as well… all of a sudden you’re able to stop thinking about that task and your brain can calm down and rest.
- Don’t have caffeine within 3-5 hours of bedtime, maybe longer is you’re really caffeine sensitive
- Finish your last meal 2-3 hours before bedtime.
- STAY HYDRATED and keep the room temperature cool. You’ll get a much better nights sleep when your body temperature (which drops at night) matches the room. Everybody is different so you may need to experiment with this.
- Get in a great workout regularly – Tire yourself out. By leading an active lifestyle you’re body will want and NEED its rest.
- Wake up the same time every morning Don’t hit that snooze button or sleep in. By establishing regular sleep patterns or a normal bedtime and wake up time you’ll make it a routine for your body to get the required rest it needs.
I know an afternoon nap isn’t feasible for everyone (unless you have a really cool boss like I do) but listen to your body… when you need more rest, TAKE IT. In the long run, it’ll do your body and overall health a world of good.
Get SLEEP Done