How to Improve Sleep

Sleep is possibly the most underrated recovery component by athletes. During sleep, the body and brain are at rest, this means that energy can go towards growth and recovery, around 40% of the usual blood flow to the brain is sent to the muscles during sleeping hours! Furthermore, growth hormone is released during sleep. Growth hormone contributes to muscle growth and repair, bone health and weight control.

Benefits of getting enough sleep:

-better mental focus
-faster recovery times
-decreased stress and better mood

What should I be aiming for? A minimum of 7-9 hours is optimal for adults.

Perfecting your nighttime routine

As with diet and exercise, a consistent approach to sleep will yield the best results. A few top tips here are:

1) Set a bed time. Routine will let your mind and body know when it is time to wind down, just as people who eat at set meal times find they get hungry around those times.

2) Cut off phone time. Perhaps put your phone on charge at the other end of the room. Social media can increase anxiety and the blue light from mobile phones is detrimental for getting into a healthy sleep cycle.

3) Read a book instead of watching TV.

4) Try drinking herbal teas, especially 'sleepy tea', and cut off caffeine in the afternoon.

5) Download a meditation app.

6) Go for a relaxed walk outside to clear the mind.

Supplements

As with anything, supplements cannot be used as a plaster for other issues that need working on. For example, magnesium shouldn't be taken to counteract having 3 espressos at 10pm! They can however provide an extra something when all other variables have been ticked off and a solid routine established. The below are what we would suggest:
Magnesium / ZMA - magnesium activates the parasympathetic nervous system, the system responsible for a calm and relaxed state. It also regulates the hormone melatonin, which guides sleep-wake cycles in your body. Finally, it maintains healthy levels of GABA, a neurotransmitter that promotes sleep. Magnesium is a common deficiency and would be the first supplement we would recommend implementing.

Magnesium / ZMA - magnesium activates the parasympathetic nervous system, the system responsible for a calm and relaxed state. It also regulates the hormone melatonin, which guides sleep-wake cycles in your body. Finally, it maintains healthy levels of GABA, a neurotransmitter that promotes sleep. Magnesium is a common deficiency and would be the first supplement we would recommend implementing.

CBD - CBD has plenty of links to relaxation and decreased stress, read more on it here.

USN Premium 8HR Casein - A slow digesting protein, a quality casein with your last meal will assist with muscle repair and keep you satiated through the night. USN 8hr Casein is specifically formulated to act across the hours that you are sleeping and fasted.

Optimum Health Slim-Nite - designed to assist in secretion of human growth hormone (hGH), during the time production levels are at their peak.

Conclusion

Poor sleep may be the missing link preventing you from being your best when it comes to training performance and recovery. By including even just a couple of the suggested tips into your days, we hope that you will see dramatic improvements in both. Don't neglect sleep health!

About the Author

Savannah Westerby, BSc Sport and Exercise Nutrition. IG:@savannahwesterby
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