So your diet is on point, your weight programming, and form/structural ingraining is on point, and you’ve even convinced yourself to do semi-regular cardio ( *gasp* ). You’re training to beat Goku, yet you still stall out though, you wonder what is going on, and change programs, or diet tactics, which all displays the same results. You get to a point where you are just absolutely sick of these motherfucking snakes on this motherfucking plane… Wait, okay, maybe not that specifically, but you get the idea.
The amount, and more specifically the quality of your sleep, plays a huge factor in the body’s ability to repair and recover from the abuse you put it through attempting to gather the Dragon Balls, or whatever it is you do in your free time. A great sleeping pattern, as well as the proper amount of sleep, and REM sleep, can do quite a bit to ensure your recovery. In men, the difference comparing 4 hours of sleep to 8 hours can in some cases double your body’s testosterone output (1, 2). You can also experience complications (not limited to men) involving oxygen desaturation and sleep apnea in some cases, depending on your size, weight, mobility level, and various sleeping positions. It’s harder for you to breathe if you sleep on your stomach, because your head needs to be turned in order to breathe, but that position can restrict your airways, as well as prevent you from fully inhaling. Sleeping on your side can cause people to be restless, I personally (Hi! Im Nich! Your friendly neighborhood admin!) have problems with my limbs going to sleep if I lie too vertically on my side (think traps/shoulders forming a vertical line) which causes me to be restless, and move around quite a bit.
Beyond these things, people might consider getting a sleep study done, if they’ve tried (and exhausted) the other options, to get a clearer picture of whats going on. Primarily the study monitors the two things I mentioned previously, and measures the Apnea Hypopnea Index (AHI) and oxygen desaturation levels that doctors use to indicate the severity of obstructive sleep apnea. The AHI is the number of apnea of hypoapnea events that the system records per hour of sleep, with a scale ranging from “None/Minimal” at being less than 5 events per hour, to “Severe” being more than 30 events per hour. Doctors can also use the Respiratory Disturbance Index (RDI) because the RDI includes not only apneas and hypopneas, but this index can also include other, more subtle, breathing irregularities. This means a person’s RDI can be higher than his or her AHI.
This brings us to Oxygen Desaturation. These are recorded via polysomnography or limited channel monitoring. A normal blood oxygen level (saturation) is usually 96 – 97%. Although there are no generally accepted classifications for severity of oxygen desaturation, reductions to not less than 90% usually are considered mild. Dips into the 80 – 89% range can be considered moderate, and those below 80% are severe. The doctor I saw specifically, mentioned that in the state of Indiana, by law, if a patient undergoing a sleep study drops below 85% saturation, the doctor is required to alert the patient, and place them on a cpap machine. Polysomnography is the simultaneous recording of multiple physiologic signals during sleep. The signals generally included are: brain waves; eye movements; chin muscle activity; air flow from the nose and mouth; chest and abdominal movement; blood oxygen levels; heart rate and rhythm; and leg movements. The signals are necessary to determine whether a person is awake or asleep, and also to determine whether their pattern of sleep is normal. Polysomnography is usually performed in a sleep laboratory with monitoring by a sleep technician. In people with OSA, polysomnography recordings demonstrate repetitive episodes of breathing pauses despite efforts to breathe. It’s considered the “gold standard” for diagnosis.
The polysomnography can tell help diagnose sleep-related breathing disorders, such as sleep apnea, sleep-related seizure disorders, sleep-related movement disorders, such as periodic limb movement disordes, and sleep disorders that cause extreme daytime tiredness, such as narcolepsy. Not everyone is this extreme however, and though expensive (mine was about 3,800$ before insurance) they can provide insight into why you may not be sleeping properly, as well as give you some options and discussion points to discuss with the doctors you are in contact with. A fairly in depth review of the process can be found here: http://www.sleepapnea.org/treat/diagnosis/sleep-study-details.html In some cases, apnea or desaturation can be solved, over time, simply by weight loss on a general scale. This isn’t exclusively for the overweight, however, and a fair amount of powerlifters and bodybuilders use CPAP machines, rather than maintain a healthy weight. In my case, my apnea wasn’t so severe that a few extra hours of sleep couldn’t make a difference. I get *good* sleep roughly 1/2 of the hours I actually spend asleep, so whenever I get 6 hours of sleep, it’s actually more similar to experiencing 3 hours. So the recommendation for the time being, was to attempt to get more than 7 hours of sleep, per night. If I can manage 9, for a fairly consistent basis, the difference is astounding, but we’re still tracking the ins and outs of why I have trouble with the things I do.
So now, you’ve gotten yourself studied, checked, re-checked, trained, prepared and ready, read through this whole gosh-darn’t blog post, probably stopped to masturbate twice, watched at least 3 episodes of Doctor Who, fed your cat (or your dog), punched a hobo, bought Subway, punched a hobo with your Subway, and ran up and down the steps to most of the buildings in Philadelphia in a grey track suit because you watched Rocky but never actually REALLY watched Rocky, but who cares because now you’re pumped and “Eye of the Tiger” is playing, we’ve covered everything but the sleeping portion. Guess what, now you get to create another list to follow! Minor (or possibly major) things that can help with sleep quality can be things like the following:
- Sleep in total darkness. Turn off cell phones, LED Lights, TV’s, lamps, computers etc
- Close all the mobile-networks and wi-fi hotspots. This Saudi-Arabian study (3) found out that the electromagnetic frequencies can decrease sleep quality.
- Exercise during the day, as research has shown (4) that just a simple exercise session incorporated in your daily life, can dramatically improve sleep quality.
- Sleep in a cold room and be naked if you can. Firstly because cold room will mimic the natural sleeping habitat of the human body (we were meant to sleep outside), and secondly because the testicles need to be a tad bit colder than the basal body temperature is, for optimal functioning (that’s why they hang in a pouch outside the body and that’s also why cold showers and loose boxers increase testosterone). **Besides, who doesn’t want to be naked?** 😀
- Don’t watch bright electronic displays before you hit the sack, as the “blue light” in most electronic screens will impair pineal gland’s ability to produce melatonin
- Consume some high quality protein before hitting the bed, as certain amino acid’s such as L-tryptophan will increase melatonin production in the brain, thus also improves sleep quality.