Sleep: It’s What’s For Dinner.

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Note from TG: Like everyone else, I’ve been swamped with work lately. We’re busier than ever at the facility (never a bad thing). Hell, I love it. Moreover, I’ve been trying my best to stay consistent with the blog (thanks for reading by the way), and with the addition of a few more distance coaching clients as well several other writing opportunities that have emerged, time is a rare commodity, unfortunately.

Thankfully, I have quite a few smart friends who are more than willing share their expertise and provide some top notch content for the site when I’m in a pinch.

Today, I have a guest post from t-nation.com assistant editor, Bryan Krahn. Bryan’s a really smart dude, and it goes without saying that he’s a wealth of information. What’s more, he and I have very similar writing styles which I figured you all would appreciate. Enjoy!

I cut my teeth working in the supplement industry, and to say I’ve been in my share of fitness shops would be an understatement; so much so that nowadays, I can’t spend more than five minutes browsing the shelves without suffering from bro-science overload.

When I do muster up the courage to drop into my local shop, it never fails to amaze me how many pre-workout products fill the shelves, each brightly labeled bottle promising to deliver log-shattering PR’s and skin-splitting pumps.

Man, I’m excited already. Here’s my credit card.

Label wise, when you drill down through all the proprietary blend bullshit, the driving ingredient is usually caffeine, and lots of it — to the tune of several Starbucks coffees, sans the cute, doe-eyed barista.

I don’t have an issue with getting jacked up before training, especially before very challenging workouts- or very early morning ones. But if you need the methylxanthine equivalent of a sledgehammer just to get amped up to walk on the treadmill, I strongly suggest that your problem is not a lack of caffeine, but a lack of sleep.

Ahhh, sleep; you know, that thing you’re supposed to be getting when you’re playing Call of Duty at 2 am? Everybody knows that we should be getting 7-9 hours a night of shuteye, but how many are truly getting it?

Rather than regurgitate the usual song & dance about the importance of sleep – and it really is important- here’s an evening strategy that I’ve found to be effective for getting more, better quality sleep:

1) Your sleep prep begins at dinner. Have your usual ridiculously healthy whole food meal that matches your goal (how’s that for presumptive)? With this meal, do just one thing: take magnesium, approximately 300 mg, preferably of a blend of forms like magnesium glycinate and magnesium taurate; and don’t do one another thing, which is to consume any form of caffeine (this assumes you exercised already). We’re trying to ramp down cortisol now to ease you into dreamland; don’t screw it up with an ill-timed trip to the coffee maker.

2) At 8 pm, have your last meal or snack of the day, assuming a 10 pm bedtime. While going to bed hungry can lead to poor sleep in some individuals, going to bed excessively full can have detrimental effects as well. If it fits with your goals, be sure to include a small amount of carbs with this meal — many find the serotonin helps relax them further.

3) Also at 8pm – step away from the computer. No exceptions. This is the most important thing you can do to improve the quality and duration of your sleep. That bright 15-inch screen blasting artificial light into your face is fooling your pineal gland into not releasing melatonin, a key hormonal player in the body’s wake-rest cycle. Get off the notebook, and dim the remainder of your home’s lights, and you’ll get sleepier, faster.

“Yeah, but, I’m a student/own my own business, and late at night is the only time I can work.”

I’ve been there; hell, I still am there, when deadlines loom. Here’s a tip: get up earlier. Ridiculously early, if necessary. I know plenty of people who built successful side businesses and impressive bodies by getting up at 4 am and working till their “day job” began at 8 or 9. I know very few who burn the candle at the other end that can say the same thing.

4) Plan the next day an hour or two before bed. You’re done working, you’ve switched off the computer, you even had a tasty pre-bed snack. What better way to wind up today and set up a kick-ass tomorrow than to plan the next days’ tasks?

Many of us are constantly putting out fires all day, running from task to task so that we never really feel like the day is “done.” Taking stock of what you might’ve accomplished today and setting up a plan for tomorrow is a great way to lower anxiety and ease an excessively stimulated brain. Furthermore, you’ll find you’re much more productive when you start the day with your work clearly laid out for you. Planning takes time – this way, you just get up and act.

* Note – about an hour before bed, take another dose of magnesium, either straight magnesium or a blend like ZMA.

5) Foam roll and stretch. I love foam rolling and stretching before bed. Okay, let me rephrase that – I hate foam rolling and I loathe stretching, but when I do them before bed, I feel like I ended my day by doing something my body really appreciates, as opposed to knocking back a bag of dark chocolate M&Ms and Facebooking my “friends.” Plus, it just feels good – at least when it’s done.

Restful sleep… it’s not just for the unpopular and unemployed! Try these tips out and let me know what you think!

be sure to show Bryan some love and visit his new, kick-ass site HERE.

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