Optimal Sleep Is Your M.E.T.A. (Most Effective Tactic Available)

Always Do What Your Mother Tells You
What’s one thing that mother nature has not deviated from, in terms of evolution, when it comes to us humans being in the best possible shape as possible?

What has she insisted we do, even when it goes completely against our natural survival instinct, when we place ourselves in our most vulnerable position – unable to protect ourselves from predator or a marauding Germanic tribe?

It’s sleep.

Why we sleep has confounded and trumped scientist and science for millennia (Millenia Trump #gold). And thanks to the abundance of recent in-depth research from the likes of Matthew Walker et al, only further highlights that sleep, optimal sleep that is, is absolutely critical for our abundant health and longevity.

 

“Sleep is a life support system and it’s mother nature’s best effort yet at immortality”

 
So what are some of the benefits derived from being well-rested?
Physiologically
– Enhanced appearance
– Healthier; stronger immune system
– More energy
– More productive
– Hormone stability

When sleep is regularly compromised?
Chronic Inflammation. Less that 6 hours of sleep a night will lead to inflammation in the body – a direct precursor to a host of avoidable lifestyle diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, hypertension, and the rapid increase in cognitive decline and associate illnesses such as Alzheimer’s.

Weight Gain. The chemicals (Leptin & Ghrelin) that signal your brain that you are full and satiated become unregulated and fail to communicate correctly resulting in a propensity to overindulge…even when you’ve had enough.

Body Fat. Research has shown that regardless of how much weight is lost, those who get more sleep are able to lose more fat.

No Mojo. Yep, your sex drive nose-dives. People who fail to get enough sleep often have a lower libido. In men this decreased sex drive may be due to a drop in testosterone levels – something else that is negatively impacted by poor sleep habits.

Poor Balance. Lack of sleep affects your balance and proprioception, making you prone to trip, falls and other physical accidents

Muscle Loss. Lack of sleep is catabolic. Even if you are in caloric deficit and strength training, the weight you lose, if sleep deprived, will be lean muscle mass and NOT body fat.

Inability to Control Food Intake. We all know how difficult it is to control our hunger and cravings when fatigued

Weakened immunity. Too little sleep weakens your immune systems defences against viruses like those that cause the common cold, flu or covid 19

Escalating Blood Sugar.  In short and to quote Matthew Walker…“One week of short sleep – five or six hours per night – will change your blood sugar levels so significantly that your doctor would classify you as pre-diabetic.”

Psychologically 
– More creative, “out of the box” disruptive thinking
– More focus, attentive, engaged
– Better learners; able to retain information
– Better memory / less forgetful

“Sleep recalibrate our emotional brain circuits, allowing us to navigate next day social and psychological challenges with a cool head”

When sleep is regularly compromised?
Impaired learning. Negatively impacts both short-term and long-term memory. General cognitive ‘wellbeing-functioning’ is compromised and will detrimentally compromise focus, emotional control, impulsive and compulsive control, mood-regulation, and an ability to harvest the required motivations to make the ‘right’ choices when it comes to our health-wealth. Discipline goes out the window, and become more of a slave to our less-desirable habits

Accidents. Being fatigued and drowsy dramatically increases your risk of car accidents and injuries from other causes – due to an inability to remain focused and alert.

Philosophically
More ethical; less likely to engage in unethical behaviour
Stronger, more will power 
More positive; less fearful, more resilient
Emotionally stable; less erratic

When sleep is regularly compromised?
Our optimal performance and resilience is solely based upon our ability to master the habits that keep us fit, strong and focused. We have to protect & rely upon our decisions and choices – chronic sleep deprivation steals your ability to make the right choices. You’ll expose yourself to your impulses and compulsions, whilst your emotions will be less-regulated.

I personally think mastering your sleep is your key to…
Optimal body composition…and is your best fat-loss strategy 
The best way to maintain lean muscle mass
The best mood enhancer
The best workout supplement
The best ‘natural’ viagra
The best way to improving your choices that reflect betterment lifestyle habits and behaviours
The best way to improving satiation, and reducing food cravings
And the best way to reducing those impulsive and compulsive behaviours

“There’s no biological or social safety net for sleep deprivation as there is for, say, starvation, That’s why our physical and mental health implodes so quickly even after the loss of just one or two hours sleep”

Noticeable Signs of Sleep Deprivation include
– Excessive sleepiness during the day, and frustratingly an inability to sleep at night.
– Frequent yawning.
– Irritability, moody. 
– Daytime fatigue and lethargy…can’t be arsed attitude.
– Poor impulse control
– Brain fog, inability to concentrate
– Food cravings – especially high fatty, salty and refined carbohydrates (sugars)
– Low sex drive
– Weight Gain
– Pre-diabetic symptoms
– High blood pressure
– Elevated blood sugar levels
 
12 Handy ‘Hints n Habits’ That Can Promote Better Sleep.

1. Shut off tablets, computers, and TV two hours before bedtime. If you have to work or cannot resist a dose of Netflix before bed, I can’t recommend enough wearing blue light blocking glasses – see below.

2. Keep all technology out of the bedroom, including TV’s. Eliminate any and all LED lighting. Put all devices, smartphones, computer on mute, or even better, airplane-mode.
The bedroom should be for two things only sleep n sex…then I wake up 

3Keep It Cool. Your body core-temperature has to actually drop for optimal sleep.
Keep the bedroom temp around 18 degrees Celsius/64 degree Fahrenheit. Your body heat peaks in the evening and then drops to its lowest levels when you’re asleep. A cool 16-18 degrees Celsius is ideal for a bedroom. Hotter rooms cause restlessness and colder means it will be harder to get to sleep in the first place

4Get Optimal Morning Sunlight. Exposure to more light during the day and less light at night is critical for healthy sleep patterns because it helps to calibrate the body’s internal “circadian” clock.

5Avoid caffeine and other stimulating beverages 6-8 before bed. Up to 40% caffeine residue can be found in the blood stream even after 8 hours. You may fall asleep normally, but you’ll be more likely to experience a lighter sleep and often wake 2-4 hours after falling asleep.
It’s important to note that as we pass our 40’s, our ability to metabolise caffeine gets more difficult. One of the best things I’ve managed to achieve over the past 12 months is reducing my caffeine intake to 2 coffees per day, and no caffeine after around 9am. My sleep hasn’t got any longer, I sleep around 7.5 hours per night, but the quality of sleep has improved dramatically. Just as importantly though, my productivity throughout the afternoon has exploded. In past drinking 3-5 coffees up till lunch time saw me (obviously) mentally crash in the afternoon, unable to focus.

6. Be Consistent. Stick to set morning and evening routines. Try to consistently go to bed and wake up at the same time each and every day. Even on weekends
Be mindful of social jet lag <—- click link to find out

7Reduce Stress. Initiate an evening pre-bed ritual or routine, whereby you start to ‘decompress’ from the day and set yourself up for bed 1-2 hours before hitting the sack. This can include dimming the lighting, have a warm (not hot) bath or shower, lighting some candles, evening reflection, meditation or journalling. Drinking something warm and relaxing like camomile tea.
Create a routine that is in effect ‘telling your mind’ that sleep is coming.
My own evening routine starts around 6pm (I go to bed quite early…ok very early). This regime starts with a warm shower. dimming lights, wear blue light blocking glasses, 10 minute day in review. The last hour before bed is listening to music.

8. Create a cave.  Eliminate any and all LED lighting from devices, alarm clocks etc. Eliminate all external light from entering the room – you want it (the room) pitch black. Pitch black darkness is essential for the body to fall asleep. … Exposure to light during nighttime can mess up the naturally programmed increase of melatonin levels, which slows down the body’s natural progression to sleep.

9. Avoid alcohol before bed. Since alcohol can reduce REM sleep and cause sleep disruptions, people who drink before bed often experience insomnia symptoms and feel excessively sleepy the following day. Successful optimal sleep requires ‘cycles’ or as Matthew Walker explains in his book “sleep spindles”. This is a process of REM and NON-REM sleep ‘cycles throughout the night, where the brain goes through a ‘cleaning or flushing process’ and then a ‘re-organising process’  – failure to do either compromises our sleep quality and leads to cognitive decline etc

10. Avoid eating 2-3 hours before bed. This isn’t to avoid gaining weight per say, it’s more about the foods that stimulate you and keep you awake, and or disrupt your sleep cycles. And ironically it’s the foods that we crave at this time of the night that tend to be front and centre of our pantry, fridge, freezer hit-list. Confectionary, snacks, potato chips, ice cream, chocolate, cured meats.

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Supplements
I take these supplements not only assist in my rest and recovery, but for brain health, brain function, stress management, immune & hormone health
Magnesium
Research indicates supplemental magnesium can improve sleep quality, especially in people with poor sleepMagnesium can also help insomnia that’s linked to the sleep disorder restless-leg syndrome. Stress reduction and mood stabilization. Magnesium increases GABA, which encourages relaxation as well as sleep.

Rhodiola In another study, students experienced significantly reduced mental fatigue, improved sleep patterns and increased motivation to study after taking rhodiola supplements for 20 days. Rhodiola also helps me cognitively with managing my impulsive behaviour. To buy Rhodiola 

Blue Light Blocking Glasses – Limit Blue-Light Exposure Before Bed
Spend less time staring at a screen Blue light from devices disrupts the brain’s melatonin, which controls how sleepy we feel. Those with Apple devices running iOS 12 have a Screen Time function, allowing users to monitor how long they spend on specific apps and set limits for switching off.
Bluelight blocking glasses
Avoid TV, smartphones, laptops and devices that emit blue light
I have been wearing Blue Light Blocking glasses 2 hours before bed, for about 2 years now, and my sleep is consistently very good. Whereas a couple of years back I was a terrible sleeper.
I use Swanwick glasses 

Vitamin D
Research links vitamin D levels to sleep quality. In fact, several studies associate low levels of vitamin D in your blood to a higher risk of sleep disturbances, poorer sleep quality and reduced sleep duration
Recent longevity studies supports additional supplementation of Vitamin D. It is incredibly beneficial in terms of fighting disease, reducing depression and apparently it boost weight loss, but curbing appetite. It’s also beneficial for boosting testosterone levels. I personally take 3000-4000IU’s a day, however please note that that dosage is ‘above’ normal recommendations, so do your own research or feel free to get in contact with me to discuss.  I use Herbs of Gold Vitamin D  

Vitamin C
Lower levels of Vitamin C as measured in blood were also linked to more nightly sleepdisturbance and a greater risk for sleepdisorders. For memory protection… Similar to vitamin E, Vitamin C has been shown to offer protection for the brain against the memory losses associated with sleep deprivation.
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is necessary for the growth, development and repair of all body tissues. It’s involved in many body functions, including formation of collagen, absorption of iron, the proper functioning of the immune system, wound healing, and the maintenance of cartilage, bones, and teeth. Recent longevity studies supports vitamin C supplementation.
I use Herbs of Gold Vitamin C 

References:

Why We Sleep, by Matthew Walker…all quotes in this article are from this very important book

More Quotes from Matthew Walker
 

“Every single disease that’s killing us in the developed world has causal links to a lack of sleep”

“Sleep is the Swiss army knife of health. No matter what the ailment, there is something more than likely in sleeps toolbox that will deal with it ”

“There is no physiological system that we’ve been able to measure that isn’t enhanced by sleep when you get it or demonstrably impaired when you don’t get enough”

 

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If you have any questions regarding the M.E.T.A. to optimising your mindset, sleep, habits, exercise, nutrition and strength training – do not hesitate to email me or call 0435 264 307

Till next time

Luke