As I sit here writing this on another sleepless night (3:45am), I can’t help but wonder who else is awake right now and stressing about how shitty they’re going to feel tomorrow because they didn’t sleep tonight. Hopefully you have the day off, or don’t have to be up and go to work in 2 hours.

I said this before in an interview and I’ll say it again – anyone who says sleep is for the weak, or, I’ll sleep when I’m dead, or anything along those lines – probably doesn’t workout, probably doesn’t care much about their physique, and probably eats like crap too. If you care about any of the above – you should be aiming for 8hrs a night.

Getting a solid 8hrs of uninterrupted sleep is one of the hardest things for most people to do. But if we could do it consistently, I’d be willing to bet we would see drastic positive changes in many aspects of our lives.

Coming from a guy who hasn’t slept well in as long as I can remember, I know that when I do get a few nights of good sleep in a row (vacation, or low stress times) – I wake up with a bounce in my step, I’m more likely to eat well, I’m motivated, I train harder, and I’m generally a better person.

Here are some things I’ve found that have really helped me cope with my sleep issues, and stay away from drugs. Although they don’t work every night (like tonight), for the most part they do make a difference. I hope some of it will help you as well.

Dosed at a breakdown of: Magnesium 450mg, Zinc 30mg, and Vitamin B6 11mg.

ZMA supplementation can help you get Non-REM deep sleep, which is when our bodies recover and repair, and lead to a feeling of being refreshed in the morning.

Dosed at 2.5mg – 7.5mg. I personally take 2.5mg.

Melatonin can help you fall asleep, however if you take too much, you might get some crazy dreams which could cause you to wake up. This can be hit or miss depending on the person. If you take too much, you might also feel groggy in the morning. I get my melatonin from product called G-Spring made by Magnum Nutraceuticals. I take 1 pill before bed (2.5mg melatonin, along with a bunch of other amino acids and ingredients that aid in sleep).

Dosed at 100mg, I take 2 pills.

5-HTP can aid in better sleep by producing serotonin, which is then converted into melatonin (see above).

People with low serotonin levels tend to spend less time in restorative non-REM deep sleep over the course of the night, leading to feeling tired and not refreshed in the morning. 5-HTP may also help in other areas of your life such as weight management, improving the symptoms of depression and anxiety, and may reduce the frequency of headaches and migraines if you are prone to them.

Other supplements
I also take 3-6g of Vitamin C every day, 3g of Vitamin D, and digestive enzymes/probiotics. Although these don’t have a direct effect on sleep, Vitamin C supports a strong immune system (if you’re sick often, you’re going to feel like shit). Vitamin D for improving feeling of well-being. And digestive enzymes/probiotics for a healthy gut (healthy gut = better absorption of nutrients, less bloating/stomach pain, better appetite, and healthy digestion).

Your mental state when going to bed
Aside from supplements – your mental state when you’re going to bed will play a huge impact on whether or not you get a good nights sleep. Here are a few of the things I’ve found that help with this part. I’ll do my best to explain my thoughts here (bare with me, some of it doesn’t make sense).

Nothing will change in the next 8 hours
I try to tell myself this before bed. Nothing will change in the next 8 hours. If I fall asleep now, and sleep the full night, I’ll wake up and everything will be the same. Most other people are also sleeping, meaning business is put on hold, the grocery stores are closed, the dog is walked, the gym is closed for the night..etc. Trying to accept that it’s OK to shut down and turn off for the next 8 hours and nothing will happen.

Think about going to sleep and deep breathing
If I catch myself thinking (about anything – from what I have to do tomorrow, to what I didn’t do today, or to my relationships, or my training..etc), I try to immediately think about sleep. I try to see myself in the 3rd person. Laying in bed, head on my pillow, lights are off, not moving around..etc. Just generally thinking about sleep (but not in a negative way like if I don’t fall asleep I’ll feel like crap in the morning).

Focusing on deep, slow breathing. This is a big one for me. It works in two ways – more oxygen, and it helps take my mind off everything else. Think about your breaths. Make them slow and controlled. Do this until you fall asleep.

White noise
For as long as I can remember, I’ve needed a constant noise in the room. For me it’s the sound of falling rain. I set it on a timer for 1hr. When I sleep well, I don’t remember it ending or restarting it. This is how I know I’ve slept through the night. I also sleep better with a fan for air circulation. I’ve also tried a hypnosis app called “Mindify: Sleep like a baby”. It works by making you focus on the speaking, and takes your mind off everything else.

Being a very warm bodied person, I’ve always slept with a fan, and often with the AC turned on. Even in the winter, I’ll turn the AC on. Although it might feel good to get into a warm cozy bed with the heat in your house cranked – if you’re like me, you’ll wake up an hour later sweating like crazy and have to get up just to bring down your temperature.

Body contact
It’s been proven that sleeping with a partner, you’re generally more likely to feel at ease and comfortable (unless you’re having a 1 night stand or its a new relationship). It affects our dopamine and oxytocin levels. It reduces anxiety, reduces blood pressure, and helps us feel more relaxed. Having a sense of comfort and stability will help you fall asleep, and when you fall asleep in this state, you’re more likely to stay asleep, go into deep sleep, and wake up feeling good and refreshed. That being said, try to meet new people, be open to relationships, and try to find the person who helps you be calm and at ease. And no, sharing your bed with the dog is not the same thing.

It’s now 5:06am, and I doubt I’ll fall asleep again tonight so I’m going to head over to Torque to train legs before my clients. I’ll definitely be taking a nap today (15-20 minute power nap), and making sure I get to bed 8hrs before I have to wake up the next morning.

I hope this post has helped and given you some things to try if you suffer from poor sleep, insomnia, or other sleep problems. Leave a comment below and let me know what you do to try to sleep. Maybe you do something that will help me, or other people reading this.


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