It’s not exactly news that we Brits are seriously sleep deprived. According to a recent YouGov report, a sixth of us are scraping by on fewer than six hours a night, with almost half of us coming in under the recommended minimum of seven.
Part of the problem is that many of the antidotes simply aren’t much fun (renounce your nightly half-bottle of wine; shun the TV) or that realistic (wear blue light-blocking glasses; develop sudden amnesia with regards to that recent work screw-up). Thankfully, a recent study points to a slightly more attractive solution to restless nights: bodybuilding. According to research by Iowa State University, grunting through a heavy set of biceps curls might be the smartest way to lull yourself into a deep slumber.
For the study, researchers enrolled 386 inactive adults and assigned them different exercise routines, which they stuck with for 12 months. (A control group just chilled.)
Each of the three training groups worked out for an hour, three times a week, with some blending strength and cardio, others sweating through a cardio-only regimen and a final group doing strength work only. That included moves like bench presses, biceps curls, triceps pushdowns and lat pulldowns, among others, working steadily through three sets of 8-16 reps. All the good stuff, in other words.
Among those who were failing to hit their seven hours at the study’s start, average sleep duration increased by an impressive 40 minutes in the bodybuilding team, compared to just 15-23 minutes in the other three groups. The pump-chasers also feel asleep faster, too. Whoever said getting hench was easy work?
Happily, the gains flow both ways: a paper published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation found that the body releases more muscle-boosting human growth hormone when we’re fully zoned out before 11pm than on nights when we fall asleep later. It’s a training tip so easy, you can do it with your eyes closed.
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