If you are a bodybuilder and want to build muscle, then improving the quality of your sleep should be one of your top priorities, alongside:
- Training hard and getting stronger
- Eating nutritious foods – consuming enough calories to build muscle and improve your training performance
- Rest and recovery – sleep, sports massages, foam rolling, stretching, etc
In this article, I’m going to focus solely on sleep.
What happens if you sleep poorly?
If your sleep is poor or not as good as it could be, you are missing out on serious muscle gains.
When you sleep less than 7 hours per night, your body won’t fully recover, your performance will suffer, you’ll be more likely to get cravings and consume low-quality foods, and it will negatively impact your digestion.
This book on sleep changed my life…
I never really thought about the importance of sleep until I read Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker – this book changed my life, and it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read. If you haven’t already, I would recommend reading it (or listening to it if you prefer audiobooks).
What I noticed when my sleep improved…
As soon as I prioritised my sleep, I noticed my strength went up dramatically, I could complete more reps, my joints and muscles didn’t ache as much, and my body composition improved (more muscle with less body fat).
8 Sleep Tips For Bodybuilders…
#1 Create A Set Sleep Routine
Babies have sleep routines, and for a good reason, they need consistency; otherwise, they get tired and grumpy – ask any parent!
It’s the same for bodybuilders. You need to create a sleep routine where you go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. For example, I aim to got to sleep at 10 pm and wake up at 6 am.
I will also factor in an afternoon nap after lunch. I only nap for 20-30 minutes, but it helps my rest and recharge and improves my digestion after a big lunch meal of 1,200 calories.
#2 Invest In A High-Quality Mattress
Ideally, you want to be aiming for 7-8 hours of high-quality sleep per night. If you sleep 8 hours per night, that means you spend a third of your life in bed. So it’s essential to invest in a good bed and a high-quality mattress. Last year I bought one from insidebedroom.com, and it’s the best money I’ve ever spent. I look forward to getting into my bed each evening because it’s super comfy, and I know I will wake up recharged and ready to hit the weights room.
#3 Take Some Sleep Supplements
Taking some sleep supplements before bed can promote a good night’s sleep. There are lots of sleep supplements on the market (many of which I have tried), but the ones I like the best are:
- Zinc Picolinate
- Magnesium Glycinate
I will take the following dose 1 hour before bed:
- Zinc picolinate – 50mg
- Magnesium Glycinate – 400mg
- Ashwagandha – 500mg
#4 Make Your Bedroom As Dark As Possible
Ideally, you want to turn your bedroom into a cave, as dark as possible. You can do this by investing in some blackout blinds or thick curtains. If you don’t want to spend much, then you can invest in a sleeping mask. By sleeping in pitch black, you will fall asleep quicker and won’t be disturbed by early morning light.
#5 No technology after 8/9 pm
1-2 hours before bed, make sure to switch off your phone, TV, laptop, and stop working for the day (no emails!).
Before going to bed, you want to be as relaxed as possible, and exposing yourself to blue light and stresses such as emails from your boss will only raise your heart rate and stress levels, which will stop you from sleeping.
#6 Invest In Some Light Blocking Glasses
Two hours before bed, I put on my light blocking glasses. I wrote an in-depth post on this a while back, so I’m not going to repeat what I said. But in summary, since wearing these glasses, I sleep far better. I fall asleep much easier and stay in a deeper sleep for a more extended time.
#7 Avoid Eating Late At Night
I appreciate that as a bodybuilder, you need lots of calories to build and refuel your muscles. But one thing that’s going to impact your sleep negatively is eating just before bed.
If you can, try and leave at least 1-2 hours for your last meal to digest before going to sleep. I would also recommend taking a digestive enzyme to prevent bloating and interpreted sleep due to poor digestion.
#8 Take A Bath Or Shower Before Bed
At the end of the day, once I’ve switched off my phone and TV… I like to either have a warm bath or shower for 10-20 minutes. I reflect on ‘what went well’ and ‘what could have been better’ and remind myself of what I need to do the following day.
I then take some time to do some breath work, where I calm myself down with a 4s inhale, and 8s exhale. I will do this for 2-3 minutes. It helps me relax.
Then I dry myself off, hop into bed, read a book for 5-10 minutes, and then I’m out!
Thanks for reading,