Men are changing…
Low muscle mass, man boobs, ‘Dad bods’ are becoming the norm.
Many are embarrassed to take their kids swimming or hit the pool on holiday.
Energy levels at rock-bottom, hooked on caffeine and suffering mood swings.
If you’re a man experiencing any of the above?
The quality of your sleep can improve it all (or deteriorate it further).
I’ll show you why your sleep is important – with simple changes to fix it and get the body want.
First, let me tell you a short story…
A successful young soldier in my early years, I joined the Army in 2003 at 16 years old. Skinny, malnourished, pale white and half ginger with no confidence. By 2008 I was fitter and stronger with improved self-belief. I promoted twice in that time, too.
Are You a Dad in a Rut of Bad Habits, Low Energy & Poor Body Confidence?
Start Here: Fix Your Diet With My FREE Guide For Dads Who Want More Energy and a Leaner, Stronger Body
But then things started deteriorating…
I struggled to keep up with lads on company PT who I was usually in front of. I was hitting the snooze button when I was usually up before the rest of my Platoon. I was sleeping in, running late and forgetting important tasks when I was usually the first man reporting for duty. I was getting more injuries and sick more often too.
At the time, I had no idea. Maybe I was stressed out for some reason? But knowing what I know now? It was lack of sleep.
See, in 2009 I got a few new gadgets (and obsessions) I’d never had before…
With a new laptop, I stayed awake longer, browsing, watching videos and staring at a screen for hours with no idea it was killing my energy, health, and career.
Cool fact: I never got in great shape until I made big improvements with my sleep routine (at 30 years old)
Josh Reid is a young client mine who started coaching with me at 15 years old.
Every morning he slept in and dreaded going to school.
So not much time to eat breakfast or energy to do the essential things to achieve his goals of losing fat and getting more muscle.
When we discovered the reason for this was sitting up late glued to his X-box he agreed to work on a bedtime routine to get better sleep…
One instant outcome was his energy and mood every morning…
“I get up no problem and don’t feel like I dread going to school anymore”
Josh went onto losing 11% body fat and I’ve lost count of how much lean muscle he’s gained.
Some sciency stuff:
People who sleep less generally have higher levels of body fat, including obesity.
Sleep deprivation screws with our hormones, reducing leptin (the hormone that makes us feel full) and increases ghrelin (the one that makes us feel hungry).
There’s also the aspect of generally feeling like crap, which heavily influences our decisions and actions. Leading to more junk food and less exercise.
Nutrient partitioning also happens when we’re in sleep deficit. Meaning more weight loss comes from lean muscle mass rather than fat mass. In other words… Not a good sales pitch during the breeding season.
Ever heard of testosterone? Aka ‘the male hormone’. It helps keep us lean, strong, sexually active and feeling good. Research shows sleep-deprived men have a 10-30% decrease in testosterone levels.
No doubt these are reasons why lady-like features are becoming more popular (and socially accepted) in the male physique of the 21st century.
Jamie’s a Dad of 2 who runs his own Home Rewire company in Glasgow. He’s driven and does very well.
But growing your own business, balancing family time and working on your body can be stressful and affect sleep, which can affect relationships at home, too.
(through experience coaching busy family men, problems at home are one of the main reasons for quitting on their goals).
So to help Jamie avoid this, keep stress low and energy high we agreed to implement a simple bedtime routine, which his wife joined him with. They both felt an instant improvement in their mood and energy levels.
With more energy and better moods after work at home. Jamie was able to stay committed to his body goals and get much leaner for his family holiday to Florida.
I’ve personally experienced a long period of time with very little interest in sex. That’s not good for any man under 30.
It’s no coincidence it was during times of functioning on 5-6 hours sleep each night and extremely high stress.
With more stress, crappy moods, less testosterone, and energy, you can bet your ass this affects your mojo too. Which isn’t good for you or your good lady.
We all have sexual needs, if they’re not being met, morale becomes a thing of the past and relationship problems begin to spiral.
(Don’t worry, I’m all fixed now).
“The best asset we have for making a contribution to the world is ourselves. If we underinvest in ourselves, and by that, I mean our minds, our bodies, and our spirits, we damage the very tool we need to make our highest contribution. One of the most common ways people – especially ambitious, successful people – damage this asset is through lack of sleep.” –Greg McKeown, Essentialism
Confusion, brain fog, and mental fatigue all stem from sleep deficit. Sleep quality determines your cognitive function and ability to problem solve, too.
Research shows us that sleep deprivation raises our daily cortisol levels (the stress hormone) keeping stress higher than it should be throughout the day.
Now, make no mistake about it, brethren. It’s my mission to help you get a better body. As a coach, I’ll consider everything that could hinder our efforts achieving this…
If your relationships at home are suffering, so will your focus (and time) to hit the gym and stay on track with eating better.
If you feel like crap all the time… You’re more likely to eat crap, skip workouts, have crap workouts, not recover from workouts and finally quit.
If you’re not performing well at work, the stress and worries from that affect your commitments to your body goals.
One thing to improve it all is getting a better nights kip, consistently.
Cue the objections…
“But Dean, Arnie didn’t sleep much and he’s killing it”
I know, Arnold famously advises:
“I’ve always figured out that there’s 24 hours in a day. You sleep six hours and have 18 hours left. Now, I know there are some of you out there that say well, wait a minute, I sleep eight hours or nine hours. Well, then, just sleep faster, I would recommend.” -Arnold Schwarzenegger
I’m a huge Arnie fan. But I believe he’s an outlier, and less than 7 hours sleep just isn’t enough for most of us. I only imagine what more he might have achieved if he did get 7-9 hours back in the day.
You never know, he might have actually made President. (And he might have saved Dillon from the Predator back in 1987, too.)
Light messes with our natural circadian rhythm. We were meant to wind down after dark and wake at light. General light is an issue, but more specifically, blue light is the biggest offender.
Blue light rays come from the sun but also from screens (TVs, tablets, smartphones). It suppresses melatonin, the hormone responsible for ‘calming’ us down and getting to sleep.
Solution: Dim your lights at night, turn off your screens an hour before bed (or at least use blu-blocking glasses), incorporate a bed-time routine and black out your bedroom to create the best sleeping environment possible.
If you live near roads the humming sound of traffic can keep you from falling (and staying) asleep. Likewise, any form of irregular, annoying noise can do the same. Like your partner snoring, or odd creaks in the night.
Solution: Buy a pair of earplugs to block out as much noise as possible whilst you sleep.
I always have trouble to sleep in the summer (or on holiday). When your core body temperature goes up it’s really difficult to switch off.
Regardless of the time of year, the heat in your home will raise or lower your core body temperature.
Solution: Keep a cool, relaxing bedroom temperature that helps you wind down and stay asleep.
Caffeine has its benefits. Enhancing dopamine, mood, and focus. But it also blocks certain brain waves that are meant to help you wind down, keeping you more alert.
Even if you don’t have trouble falling asleep it can inhibit the quality of your sleep.
Solution: Stick to 1-2 cups per day and none within 6 hours before your bedtime.
A few shandy’s might help knock you out at night. It also inhibits the benefits we get from the deep sleep we need, though. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s your good sleep aid. It’s actually stopping you from getting the quality recovery you need from sleep.
Solution: Keep alcohol consumption limited to weekends, preferably (if you do want to be in better shape) not every weekend and keep it sensible.
For more on the sciency stuff about sleep, check out examine.com:
Dean McMenamin is an Army veteran, father, dog-lover and online nutrition & exercise coach helping busy men transform their bodies, regain self-confidence and be healthier role models for their kids. He's also a big eater of ice-cream.