Sleep has long been touted as the single most important thing to make progress in the gym as well as the most important thing for overall health. Despite this fact, the average amount of sleep for Americans has fallen precipitously in recent years.
In this article we are going to explore some of the causes of poor sleep and what you can do to remedy them.
- Blue light disrupts melatonin production
- Caffeine and other stimulants
- Mouth Breathing
- Hormone Dysfunction
Blue light and light in general will impair your body’s natural ability to prepare itself for sleep. To counteract this, you should use a blue light filter for your phone and computer. Additionally, you should try and not use any technology for an hour before you go to sleep.
Caffeine and other stimulants are often used when you don’t get enough sleep, but this can often lead to a vicious cycle as it can often impair sleep the next night. In addition to impairing your ability to sleep, caffeine has also been shown to delay the timing of your body clock. The simplest remedy to this would just be to limit caffeine intake as well as not consuming any caffeine after 3 PM. If you would rather keep your caffeine, you can always add 100-200 mg of l-theanine to your daily regimen to combat some of the negative impacts.
Mouth breathing is another significant detractor from a quality night’s sleep. Besides being an annoyance due to snoring mouth breathing can also impact the amount of deep sleep achieved in a night. If you sleep for a full night, but still wake up feeling tired with a headache and a dry mouth chances are you were mouth breathing while you slept. To fix this you can use surgical tape over your mouth so that you only breath through your nose while you sleep. Over time your body will be more accustomed to nose breathing and you will be able to get rid of the tape.
The quality of your sleep is in large part due to your hormones and sleep has a substantial effect on your hormones. Because of these two facts, sleep and your hormones can have a spiraling negative or positive effect.
Growth hormone, melatonin, and cortisol are important hormones to look at when you have poor quality sleep and your other lifestyle interventions haven’t worked.
Melatonin is probably the hormone that everyone has heard about and potentially even taken, but is also the one that is the least understood by the public. Most people will take melatonin without considering the proper dosage or the possible ramifications. Melatonin has been shown to delay puberty in mice and as such should not be taken without considerations. A great alternative to taking melatonin at night is taking 5-htp throughout the day. 5-htp is converted to serotonin in your body which in turn gets turned to melatonin at night. These processes are much better for your body and for your sleep than just taking melatonin.
Cortisol or the “Stress Hormone” is crucial for good sleep as well as achieving the results you want in the gym. Cortisol has been shown to put your body in a catabolic state as well as reduce your quality of sleep. Cortisol has an important function in the waking hours but having it chronically can wreak havoc on your body. To reduce your levels of cortisol it is important to add as many ‘healthy lifestyle’ elements as you can. Going outside into nature, regular exercise, eating healthier, mediation etc. can all lead to reduction in cortisol.
Human Growth Hormone
Human growth hormone or HGH is an incredibly important hormone for sleep, physical fitness, and overall wellbeing. Losing weight, consuming protein, getting adequate sleep, and reducing sugar can all increase your body’s production of HGH.
All of these lifestyle interventions can improve your hormone levels which in turn will improve your sleep. Despite this your levels of these hormones can still be low due to a genetic predisposition. It can be useful to get your hormone levels tested to see what medical or other interventions can be used. The quality of life benefits that you can see from proper hormone production and proper sleep can not be understated and as such explorations into fixing these problems should be taken.