Derrick Ames finishes his last set of cable rows’12 reps with the 300-pound stack. Panting heavily but feeling satisfied, he adds water to his shaker full of postworkout supplement powder, mixes it thoroughly and feeds his muscles the nutrients they need. Ten minutes later, sensing he’s fully stabilized, he zips up his sweats and exits the gym.
On his way home he notices how relaxed his whole body is after his workout’how peaceful he feels, mentally and emotionally. He flips his radio to an easy-listening station, feeling a soothing, endorphin calmness.
As he enters his house, he still feels his peaceful postworkout glow. He whips up a small protein shake, then ambles up one flight of stairs. He hops into the shower and indulges himself under the water’s soothing and luxuriant heat. After preparing for bed, he reads his newest positive-thinking book. Finishing a chapter, he sets his alarm for 7:45, says his prayers and hits the sack.
As he turns off the light and nestles himself comfortably under his covers, he senses his whole body letting loose. Within eight minutes Derrick has drifted into a deep, restful slumber.
He rests soundly all night long. The quality of his sleep is deep and continual throughout the entire night.
And as the alarm buzzer goes off at 7:45 the next morning, Derrick easily, progressively evolves toward full consciousness, feeling the refreshed, easy calmness that can only accompany a slumber as restful as he experienced. His body feels somewhat tight from the prior evening’s workout, but it’s a rejuvenated, refreshed, recuperated tightness, the type he knows is connected with full recovery and muscular growth.
Pave the Way for Growth
As you read Derrick’s scenario, I’m sure you wholly identified with his easy drift-off, then sound, restful sleep period. It’s probably what you experience night after night’uh, right?
Well, maybe not exactly. Chances are that many times (perhaps much more than you’d like) the quality of your sleep is not that deep, soothing or restful. When you awaken in the morning, instead of enjoying that refreshing calm’both physical and mental’you experience a mental loginess and/or fogginess and an overall sensation that makes you wish you could sleep for several more hours.
Then you find your entire day seems harder than usual, even though you’re doing things you do day in and day out. By the time you hit the gym, your energy is down and your sharpness and overall physical power diminished. You just do the best you can, but you know right from the first set that it’s not the quality of effort you’re capable of, nor will it stimulate the improvements you’re after.
Don’t fret. By applying some sleep-encouraging tips, you’ll be able to fall asleep easily and slumber deeply night after restful night. Start by realizing how important sleep is to your bodybuilding success.
Muscle Increases Depend on Sleep
Although sleep and the stimulation of muscular increases occupy opposite ends of the spectrum’complete inactivity vs. intense effort’each depends on the other. Research indicates that even though you may blast your muscles feverishly in the gym, it’s during sleep that the muscle tissues restore, rejuvenate and grow.
To verify the relationship of sleep to muscular development, think about a workout you had when you didn’t sleep well (or enough) the night before. Aside from possible concentration lapses and a decreased pump (muscle flatness as opposed to engorgement), you no doubt experienced reduced stamina and muscle control.
To get the fastest bodybuilding gains possible, you need to enjoy deep, sound, natural slumber every night, and that brings us to how you can do just that. ALL Tips for Easy, Restful Sleep
Feeling alert, rejuvenated and charged with energy upon awakening positions you to tackle your day with maximum effectiveness and to generate peak intensity when you train. To get that feeling, it’s essential to enjoy a deep, soothing quality of sleep all night long. Individual requirements vary, but as a rule of thumb, seven to eight hours of uninhibited slumber will optimally rebuild, repair and regenerate your body and mind.
1) Make your bedroom as relaxing an environment as possible. It’s important to have a firm mattress, a comfortable pillow and comforter, fresh, clean sheets and pillowcases. You might want to hang pictures of relaxing, natural environments on your wall (ocean, lush green mountain, sunset, waterfall, rolling meadows or snow capped peaks) to suggest peace and serenity to your subconscious.
If at all possible, keep your business paperwork and any other work-related items outside the room where you sleep. You want your mind to associate your bedroom solely with rest, relaxation and peaceful sleep.
2) Keep your bedroom dark, quiet and comfortable. Set the temperature at a moderately cool level (60 to 70 degrees)’but be sure to keep yourself warm and cozy. If necessary use eyeshades, earplugs or extra blankets.
3) Don’t take naps. Save all your sleep for bedtime. (The exception is if you’re on a grueling pre-contest cycle.)
4) Make a ritual of getting ready for bed. Brush your teeth, check door locks, check the thermostat, read inspirational books, visualize success for the following day and so on.
5) Get into bed to sleep only when you can’t stay awake any longer. Don’t force yourself into bed merely because it’s getting late.
6) Awaken at the same time every day no matter how little you sleep.
7) A half hour before you get into bed to sleep, drink liquids that soothe and relax your nervous system. A cup of warm nonfat milk or sleepytime herbal tea’containing valerian, hops, chamomile and passion flower, for example’will help you wind down and feel at ease.
8) Avoid all caffeinated beverages at least three full hours before your bedtime. Those include cola, coffee, regular tea and chocolate drinks. You don’t want to feel wired when you get into bed.
9) Eat lightly, if at all, as your planned bedtime approaches. Going to sleep with a full stomach impedes relaxation because the brain receives digestion signals that activate bodily functions. As bedtime nears, try to deactivate or mellow as much as possible.
10) Avoid nicotine an hour before bedtime. It stimulates the nervous system and may retard relaxation and sleep for 30 to 45 minutes. If you smoke (come on, you can quit!), don’t light up in bed or in the middle of the night. (By the way, smoking in bed is the leading cause of house fires.)
11) One hour before bed, indulge in a hot shower or bath to relax muscles and dissipate tension.
12) Prepare for tomorrow the night before. Organize the following day so you eliminate the feeling of unfinished business and get a jump on tomorrow’s demands.
13) Never procrastinate. Delayed tasks are rarely easier and lay heavy on your mind’which is the reason procrastination has been linked with sleep problems.
14) At bedtime write down anything you want or need to remember. This frees the mind and lets you ‘drift off’ easily and peacefully. 15) Use a self-hypnosis sleep-inducing cassette. Numerous selections are available that promote restful slumber. Sleep-related audiotapes are designed to relax and soothe the mind, body and nervous system so natural sleep occurs effortlessly and remains constant.
16) Practice emotional clearing. Forgive and release the hurts, frustrations and stumbling blocks of your day before they sink to the subconscious level and come back to haunt you. Throw out your emotional garbage by letting go and forgiving so you establish an inner feeling of peace, poise and harmony with what’s around you.
17) Practice progressive bodypart relaxation. Start from your toes and work your way up your body to your scalp. Relax and let each muscle turn totally loose. Then visualize peaceful scenes to promote drifting off into a deep, natural, peaceful slumber.
18) Pretend’and sense’you’re a small child being gently rocked to sleep in the most cozy, secure, safe and loving environment possible.
19) Give thanks for your blessings. It provides a sense of well-being to acknowledge your appreciation of your health, physical functioning, sharp mind and so on.
20) Release your cares and worries. Imagine yourself stuffing all of your cares, woes and/or troubles into a large canvas sack, attaching that sack to a large red helium-filled balloon and letting it float up, up and away. You’ll get a feeling of release’like having your cares placed outside and then taken away.
Subconscious Affirmation for Restful Sleep
The following affirmation’if you repeat it slowly, quietly and lovingly prior to sleep’will help you relax your body and mind and establish a foundation of harmony and balance so natural slumber comes easily. I’ve used variations of this for years, and no matter what situation or concern I’ve had to address during the day, the process always helps me fall asleep easily and rest deeply throughout the night.
‘And so now, my toes are relaxed…my ankles are relaxed…my abdominal muscles are relaxed…my heart and lungs are relaxed…my hands and arms are relaxed…my neck is relaxed…my brain is relaxed…my face is relaxed…my eyes are relaxed. My whole mind, body and spirit are relaxed, soothed and serene.
‘I fully, freely forgive and release everyone and wish for them the same harmony, health, peace and goodness I desire for myself. I am at peace; I am poised, serene, still and calm. I rest in security and in easy peace. A great wave of soothing comfort now progressively rolls over me, and a great calm deeply quiets my whole being.
‘I expect the best and know that I have the right to all good things in life. I wrap myself in the mantle of positive expectancy and assuredness and drift off to sleep filled with good will for all. Throughout the night peace and calmness remain with me, and in the morning I shall be filled with life, energy and a vibrant, positive glow.
‘I sleep in peace and awake in joy. Everything is okay because I’m okay. And so I now let go and naturally, continually drift into easy, restful slumber.’
Sleeping deeply is a natural and important part of your continued bodybuilding success. If you’re not getting it, you’re not getting the best gains possible. Do everything you can to get perfect slumber night after night, and your muscles will grow at an alarming rate.
Editor’s note: Pete Siegel is America’s foremost sports and peak-performance hypnotherapist. He regularly works with pro athletes in every sport and has produced numerous acclaimed confidence-building/personal-success-development programs. To review his self-help books and CDs, go to www.incrediblechange.com. IM