Clients that come to us for our bespoke personal training programmes and great results are all too often busy London professionals looking to achieve the amazing. Whilst this does not daunt us in the slightest, we cannot ignore the basics in setting solid foundations for delivering you the results you desire.
I’m often asked, by clients/friends/trainers how quickly and easily outstanding results can be delivered – es-sentially how can you achieve the maximum gain from the minimum effort. My response is simple – we can offer you the tailored programme to achieve the best outcome for you, but you need to get those all too often ignored basics right. Eating right is the obvious one, but too few people recognise the role of sleep as an essential ‘basic’.
I often ask my clients how they slept last night? Did they keep the wireless router on? Were their mobile phones switched off while they slept? This is all to establish the real ‘quality’ of sleep they achieved.
We have to delve a little deeper into what happens when we’re sleeping to understand why I place so much emphasis on sleep quality and quantity.
Melatonin is a hormone, secreted by the pineal gland, that helps to initiate sleep (in the absence of light) and is responsible for healing and regenerative processes. Melatonin is one of the most effective anti-oxidants in the body (due to its ability to easily diffuse across the blood brain barrier and because it doesn’t convert into harmful free-radicals) and actively scavenges for metabolic waste products that are otherwise toxic to the body. It has been shown to be a powerful suppressor of tumour growth and helps protect against DNA muta-tions – which is why it is seen as one of the most powerful, natural, cancer remedies around. Melatonin im-proves sensitivity of the immune system and helps it to deal with chronic inflammatory and auto-immune dis-eases. All in all, it’s pretty powerful stuff!
We’ve established that Melatonin is a pretty useful hormone to secrete from a health perspective, but why is it so important to training, other than the obvious improvements in healing and regeneration? Three letters – HGH.
Human Growth Hormone (HGH) production is directly influenced by Melatonin levels and not only does Mel-atonin stimulate production of HGH, it also influences how much of it is utilised. In short, poor sleep means poor Melatonin production, which in turn leads to poor secretion of HGH and the little that is produced is not used effectively. Better sleep = more Melatonin, more HGH and better use of HGH.
What does HGH do I hear you ask? Well, HGH influences the ability of the body to ‘burn’ fat, to grow and repair lean muscle tissue, to repair skin (hence the nickname the ‘hormone of youth), enhance the immune system and improve bone density. The more of it we produce the greater the training induced adaptations will be – it’s as simple as that.
Why do my questions about wireless networks and mobile phones matter?
Wireless networks and mobile phone emit a form of Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR) that have been shown to drastically reduce the amount of Melatonin (and also another brain chemical – Serotonin – which is re-sponsible for feeling of well-being and calm). In short, leaving your wireless network on overnight and sleep-ing with the mobile phone by your bed are reducing the secretion of Melatonin. To compound the issue, the skin is photo sensitive and detects light. Even the light from a red standby button on a television is enough to reduce Melatonin production. Get up for the loo during the night? Leave the lights off! Turning them on will stop production altogether – even if you subsequently return to sleep.
We haven’t even gone into the effect that poor sleep has on the adrenal glands and cortisol but suffice to say it isn’t good (basically, long term poor sleep leads to adrenal fatigue and an increase in body fat storage around the abdomen).
Hopefully you can now see why I place so much significance on a good night’s sleep. Without it you are ad-versely affecting the delivery of those desired results. In fact I would go as far as to say that sleep is the most potent, natural, performance enhancer out there.
Here’s how to improve yours:
1. Get to sleep before 10.30pm – most HGH production takes place in the first few hours after 11pm. Maxim-ise this potential!
2. Dim the lights close to bed time and stay off the laptop/tablet/mobile phone for a couple of hours before bed.
3. Turn the wireless off at night and get yourself a battery operated alarm clock (that doesn’t tick-tock!). Leave the mobile downstairs or as far from you as possible.
4. Get dark curtains or blackout blinds and sleep in the quietest room you can.
5. Avoid tea and coffee after 6pm and avoid sugary foods that can cause glycemic rebound (waking up hun-gry in the middle of the night). Incidentally, all these things reduce Melatonin production.
6. Learn to breathe properly and practice relaxation techniques before bed.
At Embody we look at the bigger picture and not just our clients’ personal training regimes. This means ad-dressing nutritional and sleep problems and ensuring recovery strategies are in place to enable high quality sessions to be completed. Any busy London City professional who is focused on personal training to deliver those elusive results needs to look at the overall stress on their bodies. Londoners feel ‘immune’ to stress but the day-to-day grind of travelling and working in a busy city mean that, for the best results, recovery – and sleep especially – should be optimal!
Article written by Chris Walton