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Optimise Your Sleep

As most of us know nowadays. Sleep is vital to health and longevity.

Good quality sleep is most powerful tool you can use for recovery. Forget all the latest supplements until your sleep is dialled in.

Having chronic lack of sleep can have very serious effects on your health. In particular Heart health as shown is the systematic review below.

Brady, J. et al ‘Effects of sleep deprivation on endothelial function in adult humans: a systematic review, geroscience,2021;43(1) :137-158, available at:

What tells our body to wake up and fall asleep?

There are two main systems

  1. Adenosine system

Adenosine is an organic compound that builds up the longer you are awake. It’s produced by nerve cells (neurones) combusting energy. When you have long restful sleep you have low levels of Adenosine.

As the day goes on you build up more adenosine which makes you feel sleepy. This is called sleep pressure.

  1. Circadian Rhythm

Have you noticed when pulling an all nighter maybe due to finishing a work project, you feel exhausted but then towards the morning you get a second wind and start to feel alert again.

This is because our body has it’s own internal clock that tells us when to wake up and when to fall asleep. This is controlled by sunlight.

We first wake up in the morning as we release a pulse of a hormone Cortisol from our Adrenal glands.

Sleepiness when it gets dark is due to a hormone called Melatonin which is released by the Pineal gland.

Ways to Optimise Sleep

  1. Control Caffeine intake

Caffeine works by blocking Adenosine receptors. This is known as an Adenosine antagonist.

This makes you feel more alert and awake as Adenosine can’t take it’s effect.

When caffeine wears off you get a caffeine crash. Yes, you’ve all experienced it. Where you feel even worse than before you had your coffee.

The reason for this is once the caffeine wears off the Adenosine receptors are now unblocked and get flooded by adenosine that has been building up during the day.

Caffeine has a half-life of around 5 hours. That means after 5 hours you will have half of the amount of caffeine in your system compared to when you ingested it.

If you had a double espresso. You would still have the equivalent of a single espresso in your system 5 hours later.

The best Sleep expert in the world Dr Matthew Walker who was assistant professor of Psychiatry at Harvard suggests stopping caffeine intake 10 hours before bedtime.

For example if you fall asleep at 10pm. Have your last coffee at 12pm.

A lot of people will then say I can fall asleep even if I drink coffee before bed.

Even though you fall asleep you will not be getting the same quality of sleep. i.e. not enough deep sleep.

Getting less deep sleep for 5 years will age you by 10 years faster!

  1. Go to bed and wake up the same time each day

As we said earlier your body has it’s own internal clock controlled by sunlight and two main hormones Cortisol and Melatonin which control this.

If you have an irregular sleep pattern your body will not get restful deep sleep as it’s not aligned with your own body clock.

  1. Get early morning sunlight and no blue light before bed

Neurones in your eye set your circadian rhythm. They do this by receiving certain wavelengths of light at certain times and then telling your body what time of day it is.

By getting sunlight in your eyes when first waking not through a window, directly outside signals the start of day.

If you get this light through a screen or window it will be 50 times less effective

This morning light will tell your body to release cortisol.

Before bedtime it’s important not to get any blue light from phones, TV, computers etc at least 2 hours before bed.

Blue light supresses melatonin release.

Therefore it’s important to sleep in a pitch-black room with no electronics to limit blue light exposure.

Candlelight and low lying lights do not supress melatonin so can be a great alternative later in the evening.

Low lying lights in your bathroom as nightlights are a great idea as they will not supress melatonin production if you need to go to the toilet during the night.

  1. Supplements

Magnesium Threonate at 300mg 30 minutes before bed. Increases production of neurotransmitter GABA. This turns off thinking about the future and ‘worrying’.

Theanine at 100mg-200mg 30 minutes before bed has a similar effect. It’s in a lot of energy drinks to stop jitters from caffeine.


Sleep deprivation increases risk of cardiovascular disease

Stop Caffeine intake 10 hours before bed

Go to bed and wake up the same time each day

Get early morning direct sunlight

No blue light 2 hours before bed

Sleep in a pitch black room with no electronics

Tags :
Fat Loss,Lifestyle,Nutrition
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