Sleep: The Ultimate Performance Enhancer

by Metabolic Meals

by Metabolic Meals

Updated Apr 29, 2021

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Want to lose weight easier? Improve your sleep.

Need more focus and drive? Improve your sleep.

Getting sick more often? Improve your sleep.

Yes, there’s a pattern here and it even extends into mental health, sex drive and longevity.

The days of wearing the “I only need 4 hours of sleep” like a productivity badge of honor needs to be over. Burning the candle at both ends only leads to poor health, bad decision making and burnout.

I’ll take that statement further and challenge anyone to assess their ability to “get things done” after fixing any existing sleep issues.

Sleep is the ultimate performance enhancer.

What defines a good night’s rest?

Seven to eight hours seems to be the minimum per night that we should aim for. Deep, uninterrupted sleep is the goal. It’s not good enough to just be in bed — we must minimize the tossing and turning, trips to the bathroom and mind racing.

This is where your evening routine comes in.

These 5 habits are ruining your sleep:

1. Eating too late.

Research shows that every cell in the human body has an interconnected circadian clock with a precise 24-hour timing. These studies show that insulin released when we eat can act as a timing signal. By eating too late we may be disrupting our circadian rhythm, causing less distinction internally between day and night.

Metabolic Meals Tip:

Daily meal timing schedule with sample meals.

Eat within an 8-10 hour window (8 a.m. – 5 p.m. for example) and stop eating for at least 3 hours before going to bed. This can reset the circadian rhythm, help you naturally wind down and allow your liver to rest.


2. Eating and drinking the wrong foods.

Eastern Medicine talks a lot about Yin and Yang when it comes to health. This essentially means Warm vs. Cool or Drive vs. Calm. The foods you eat can certainly display a Yin or Yang effect. In the West, we relate this to neurotransmitters.

Proteins, fats and carbs are known to trigger the release of these chemicals which can give you energy or make you more relaxed.

Metabolic Meals Tip:

Eat more turkey, chicken and fish in the evenings along with 20-40g of low glycemic carbs to help with relaxation. These foods increase GABA and serotonin which are calming neurotransmitters.

Also be mindful of when you have your last cup of coffee. It has a 12-hour half-life so even a cup at noon can make it hard to fall asleep for some people.


3. Obsessing over negativity.

Times are tough right now. People have plenty of reasons to be stressed out, but it’s important to remain positive.

Chronic stress = elevated cortisol. This fight or flight hormone should only be elevated earlier in the day. At night, cortisol should decrease allowing us to be calmer. Many people don’t have this natural curve because they’re overly stressed and remain “wired” at bedtime.

Metabolic Meals Tip:

Intentionally avoid social media, technology, and food

Keep a gratitude log. We tend to take many positives in our life for granted until we no longer have them. It’s pretty amazing how much better you feel after writing a few paragraphs about what you’re thankful for each night. This might be the fastest way to make a mindset shift leading to more restful sleep.


4. Inconsistent schedules.

Sleep Specialist Mathew Walker believes that going to bed and getting up at the same time every day is the single best thing you can do to sleep better. While many people have fairly regular sleep schedules throughout the week, your weekend probably doesn’t follow the same pattern. Staying up late and/or sleeping in over those two days is enough to alter the circadian rhythm. We’ve all felt this shift on a Monday morning.

Metabolic Meals Tip:

Get up at the same time every morning-even on weekends. This makes it more likely that you’ll go to bed at a reasonable time. Even if you do have a late night here and there, you’ll fall back into your normal sleep schedule a lot easier by not sleeping in.


5. Using your phone at bedtime.

The blue light emitted from our cell phones (and other screens) is similar to the light we receive from the sun during the day and reduces the melatonin that we should be producing at dusk. The result can be insomnia and a lack of deep restful sleep.

Metabolic Meals Tip:

Do some soft tissue work. One particular method that works extremely well at night is called gut smashing. Yes, this sounds awful but stay with me.

Use a lacrosse ball, foam roller or Coregeous Ball to release tension in your abdomen and hip flexors. Gut Smashing also stimulates the Vagus Nerve which turns on the parasympathetic nervous system known for helping you “rest and digest”.

Simply lie face down and position one of the above implements on your abdomen. Breathe deeply and rhythmically as you roll around slowly looking for tight spots. 10 minutes will do the trick.

Jason Barbour is the CEO of Metabolic Meals and a builder of e-business brands that help people live healthier lives. For over a decade, Jason worked closely with top athletes and executives to improve their performance through nutrition, fitness and lifestyle modifications.  He now focuses on using technology to give people a more personalized path to achieving their wellness goals.

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