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Growth hormone

Hack Your Sleep

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If your sleep quality sucks so will your workouts. And your recovery. And your sex life. And your dietary decisions. And your mood. Yea, sleep  is pretty damn important.

Let me tell you a story.

My last two years of college I lived with 6 other guys. It was a blast; however, sleep quality was piss-poor. Specifically, I remember a heat wave during my last year of college. It was July with temperatures 95-105 for about a week straight, with heat indexes hanging out around 110.  Working two jobs, one which was outside all day, and then coming home to “chill” with 6+ dudes was brutal. We didn’t have air conditioning and it stayed about 90 degrees and humid inside all night long, it was as much fun as licking the inside of a toilet bowl. Never, ever have I appreciated the benefits of quality sleep.

Sleep is essential to many of the fundamental attributes for physical health, mental performance, and overall health. Aim to get at least 6 hours, as growth hormone and testosterone peak during sleep.

Plain and Simple, you need at least 6 hours of quality sleep. Lack of sleep is associated with:

  • increased body fat

  • higher stress levels

  • increased hunger

  • smaller muscles

  • less sex and sexual dysfunction

  • irritable behavior

  • earlier death

None of this sounds good to me, so getting high quality sleep is a huge priority. Is it really necessary to check your emails again?

No, F^*% that.

I’d rather have my muscle, intelligence, sanity, abs, and life.

As many as 30% of adults sleep less than six hours per night, the minimum you should try to get per night. Any less than six hours of sleep per night and your testosterone begins to plummet, growth hormone output decreases, and cortisol spikes. Sold on sleep?

Here are 7 Tips to Maximize Your Sleep

1. Turn your room into a cave

In order to fall asleep the body produces melatonin, a hormone that aids the body in relaxing enough to sleep. However, many of todays technologies such as cell phones, alarm clocks, tablets, and emit blue light that disrupts natural circadian rhythms.

For those who aren’t familiar, the circadian rhythm refers to our internal, 24-hour cycle of biochemical, physiological, and behavioral processes. To optimize melatonin production avoid screens 1-2 hours before bed and instead, opt for a book or other relaxing activity and cover all sources of light in your room.

2. Avoid Caffeine

Coffee and caffeinated drinks are great. I drink them when I need an extra boost for workouts or increased alertness early in the morning. When used correctly, caffeine can yield very productive days. Issue is, caffeine has a 6 hour half-life.

Unfortunately, this means that cup of Joe you slurp down at 10am still has caffeine flowing through your body when you’re prepping for sleep and trying to wind down in the evening. You probably don’t even feel the affects causes issues because caffeine disrupts sleep quality through decreased REM sleep, the deep sleep that your body utilizes to recuperate physically and emotionally.

3. Turn down the thermostat

This one takes me back to college. We had a brutal heat wave in Wisconsin (yes this happens), it was 95-105 for about a week straight with a heat index 110+. This would be bearable, but I happened to live in a stuffy house without A/C filled with 6 other guys. In other words, it sucked and I woke up every morning drenched in sweat and dehydrated.

Although sleeping temperature is highly variable from person to person, most scientists agree that slightly cooler temperatures than normal promote deeper sleep patterns.

4.Protein Before Bed

“What happened to eat after 8 gain weight?”

Sorry to burst your bubble, but this is a fallacy. When looking to build an awesome body it’s important to emphasize protein. My favorite before bed is cottage cheese, as the slow digesting casein proteins will provide amino acids to the muscles for hours to come. In addition,
Tryptophan, the amino acid popularized by post-Thanksgiving naps facilitates serotonin production. Serotonin is a neuro-transmitter that assists in sleep regulation.

5. Crush Carbs At Night

First protein at night, now carbs? Eric are you crazy?

Calm down junior, there is nothing wrong with carbs at night.

In fact, placing a bigger emphasis on carbohydrates at night will greatly benefit you sleep quality. Similar to tryptophan, carbohydrates facilitate seratonin production, aiding in improved sleep quality.

6. Have a Cheat Day

Cheat days during a diet are not only beneifical for your sanity but also for hormones such as leptin to keep results coming and sleep quality on par. Keeping consistent leptin levels is paramount  because leptin sends a message to stop eating when your body has fueled up enough. When at a caloric or sleep deficit, leptin decreases, making it more likely to overeat.
In short, this sucks.

When leptin decreases so does your rate of fat loss, which is why your diet may stall. By using a cheat day you can increase your leptin to spark fat burning. In conjunction with this increase in leptin levels the increased calories in your body will increase serotonin production, aiding in sleep quality similar to a huge holiday meal.

7. Set an evening routine

Our bodies like consistency due the consistency of ciradian rhythms. Try unwinding, avoiding P.M. stimulants, stimulating lights from electronics, and practice relaxation techniques such as stretching and meditation. In essence, instead of checking email and watching Mean Girls opt for a book and a comfy chair in a quiet area.

Your body will increase melatonin and serotonin production for higher quality, more restful sleep.

Quality sleep is the most overlooked and neglected factor when it comes to health, body composition improvement, and athletic development. Sleep is your time to improve and reap the benefits of your hard work in the kitchen and gym, maximize sleep to maximize your gains.

How can you improve your sleep? Do you have any tips or tricks?

Get Outside to get in Shape!

Far and away the easiest part of working out for me tends to be resistance training. Conditioning, cardio, energy system work, or whatever you want to call it is often the one thing I never want to do. Not because it’s incredibly hard, but I get so bored by the thoughts of running on a machine for 30 minutes per day 3-5x per week which is so often recommended. This may work to an extent and even be fun for some people, but I prefer brief yet extremely challenging conditioning to get me in, out, and on with my life.

As the weather gets nicer take time to get off of the hamster wheel (aka treadmill) and get outside for some fresh air. Run stairs, run hills, go to a park and utilize the open space to sprint and perform bodyweight exercises. These activities are all liberating as you enjoy the sunshine, smells of spring, and fresh air. Near all-out activity accompanied by short rest periods will give an extremely difficult challenge for all your energy systems while giving you the benefits of increased growth hormone production which decreases as you age.

Benefits of Human Growth Hormone Include:

• increased protein synthesis

• increase fat burning

• tissue repair

• improved sexual performance

• improved bone density

• Improved sleep quality and increased energy

I could be wrong, but I tend to think these are things most people would love to improve on. Here are some simple examples of exercises to increase your GH while enjoying nature.

Hill Sprints:

Find a hill 40-80 meters long Perform 6-8 Sprints and walk back for a recovery

Stairs:

Sprint up the stairs touching each step 3x, jog back down

Sprint up the stairs touching every other step 3x, jog back down

Perform jumps on each step 3x, jog back down Rest 2-3 minutes and repeat if able

Bodyweight Exercises+Stairs:

Sprint up stairs touching every other stair, perform pushups to failure

Sprint up stairs touching every step perform 25 jump squats

Jump up the stairs and perform 20 burpee jumps Rest 2-3 minutes and Repeat

Other tools that work great for outdoor workouts include sleds, medicine balls, heavy bags, sandbags, logs, Vipr, and tires. Sprint, throw, jump, and carry heavy objects until you’re exhausted, don’t dilly dally on the hamster wheel until it tells you 400 calories have been burnt.

Take back fitness and enjoy being outside wherever you are! Leave your favorite outdoor workout below!

Copyright 2012 by Eric R Bach.  All rights reserved.  This material may not be duplicated or distributed without written consent from the author.

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