Abs are made in the bed
When it comes to training goals, one of the most universal mentioned is fat loss or weight loss. The apex result of fat loss is having a strong looking and strong functioning abdominal wall. A six pack is an indicator of someone's body fat % (which is an indicator of hard work and dedication).
Diet and exercise are a large portion of what determines your abdominal outcome, but lately experts are hailing a not-so-secret weapon on the war for washboards: sleep. Renowned strength coach Dan John recently wrote an article for Men's Health giving the recipe for Hollywood abs as:
- 1800-2200 calories per day
- 5-days of physical training per week
- 10 hours of sleep per day
While I disagree with the 10 hour prescription, I would recommend the standard 8 hours per day as a benchmark. Sleep is when the majority of Growth Hormone is secreted in us humans which repairs muscles and joints and devours fat. Interrupt or cut short this cycle and your jeopardize not only your abs, but your overall mental and physical health. Even 8 hours of sleep that falls outside of the normal circadian rhythm (10PM-6AM) is less restorative than normally-timed sleep. Stress, stimulants, and poor sleep hygiene (readiness of your bedroom for sleep) contribute to sleeping difficulties. Keep the phones and electronics out of the bedroom (unplug 30 minutes prior to bed time) to set the body and mind ready for a restful slumber.
While many of us rely on sleep aids, most over the counter drugs are more disruptive to sleep patterns then they are helpful. Prescription drugs are even more detrimental in the long run to the body's circadian rhythm. Alcohol often causes individuals to wake up early in the morning, snapping people out of REM and generally inhibiting restful sleep. The best strategy for inducing sleep is some herbal tea and some old-fashioned quiet time (not a tea flavor!)
Improve your memory, your energy and even your abs. You can't afford NOT to sleep!