Here’s the deal: As a personal trainer, you likely work with you clients on building a customized program based on exercise routines and nutritional guidelines. These are obviously important, but they are exactly the same things every other personal trainer is focusing on as well.
Fitness professionals often throw around the word “holistic” when describing their services, but how many actually take a “whole” approach to helping clients reach their goals?
There is one element of health, and especially weight-loss, that every client needs to address, but that few coaches help them with:
Not just any old sleep; your clients need restful, recharging, meaningful sleep.
Without this, your clients will find it much harder to lose stubborn weight that exercise just can't seem to get rid of. To make matters worse, it reflects poorly on you as the trainer if your client can’t reach their weight loss goal.
The bottom line?
Every personal trainer should introduce their clients to these simple sleep strategies that produce results. As a trainer, implementing these easy changes to your clients’ sleep schedule can be the difference maker in 2018 and for years to come! Let’s dive in.
1. Create a Bedtime Routine
Most people already have a bedtime routine, but that doesn't mean they have a healthy bedtime routine.
Too often we find ourselves watching TV too late, jumping into bed without winding down, and going to sleep at different times every night.
The goal is to get between 6 and 8 hours of deep sleep each and every night (duh). If a client has trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep, remind them that humans are creatures of habit.
Creating habits before sleep creates triggers in a person's brain which allows them to easily get the sleep they need. But bad habits can have the opposite effect.
Read below for some great "before-bed" habits to suggest to any client, or check out this quick video from Tim Ferriss:
a) Have a light, healthy snack before hitting the sack
A healthy snack helps keep you asleep through the night!
- Yogurt is a great treat not only before bed but at any time of the day. It is loaded with probiotics and healthy fats.
- Almonds are filled with magnesium which will relax muscles and promote a rewarding deep sleep.
- The all-powerful banana is pumped full of magnesium and potassium which will promote the same muscle relaxation as almonds.
All this probiotic talk has me thinking… Plenty of healthy bacteria in your gut is SO IMPORTANT to your weight loss program. To learn more check out this article!
b) Have your client create to-do lists for the coming day
Nothing says “it’s bedtime” like preparing for the next day! By making it a habit to work on tomorrow's to-do list the night before, your client's brain will be triggered to get in the zone and get ready to snooze.
(Plus, this is a great habit to have to improve overall goal-setting and success.)
c) Incorporate stretching
Not only can a stretching routine help your clients sleep better, it also prevents injury which helps your client reach their goals in the gym. Win-win!
Beyond habits, there's one thing many people forget about...
2. Get A Good Mattress
Tossing and turning all night is something we’ve all experienced. It sucks.
But if it happens frequently, the culprit could be your mattress. If a mattress is more than 8 years old, or is simply a cheap mattress, it might be time for your clients to get a new one. Here are some visual rules of thumb to follow:
Now, you might be wondering:
I don’t know anything about mattresses. How can I make a meaningful recommendation?
Well, I can help. If you are unsure how to help your clients, have them read this guide on how to choose a mattress. But, of course it really comes down to personal preference.
Fortunately, many mattress companies nowadays allow for a lengthy trial period with a new mattress. Your clients can test one out to see if it does allow them to sleep more soundly.
3. Don't Work Out Too Late*
As mentioned earlier, sticking to a sleep schedule is important to your client's sleeping smart and losing weight.
But if you make working out right before hitting the sack a habit, it can keep you awake at night.
Don’t take my word for it - A recent study had participants exercise at 7am, 1pm, or 7pm 3 days per week. Guess who got the deepest, longest sleeps? It was those who were doing the 7am workout sessions!
Now you may have noticed I used an asterisk in this sections title... Let me tell you why:
*I was only telling a half truth.
Strenuous workouts before bed will be counterproductive to one’s sleep schedule BUT there is an exception that we discussed earlier: Stretching before bed and/or trying some yoga poses can relax you and improve sleep.
Here's another set of before-bed stretches you might want to recommend to your clients:
4. Make the Bedroom Just For Sleeping
We're all guilty of this:
Feeling sleepy, we roll over in bed to start the next episode of Breaking Bad, the next YouTube video or we search Instagram to see what our favorite Instagram model is up to…
Before you notice it’s 4AM and you have no idea where the time went and you’re anxious about how exhausted you're going to be tomorrow.
There is a reason these things happen to people. They bring TV, Computers, Phones, etc. into the bedroom.
Entering the bedroom should be a trigger to anyone’s brain that it is time to go to bed. Not checking emails. Not replying to tweets. Not firing up the Playstation. Just sleep.
5. Enjoy Some *Healthy* Late Night Carbs
Hot take incoming: Carbs get a bum rap.
Why? Because people think they make you gain weight. But, the opposite is true in some cases. Certain carbs will actually help your client lose weight. Your clients just need to know which ones to choose.
Breads and pasta should be avoided, especially in excess when trying to lose weight, but complex carbs like sweet potatoes are excellent for weight loss and a good night's rest.
These complex carbs help a person sleep and do the opposite of quick carbs, which burn quickly and give you a spike in energy followed by a crash. (Which, as you can guess, is bad for sleep.)
Another good pre-bed food is Jasmine rice. Jasmine rice digests slowly and may raise a person's production of tryptophan.
In a 2007 study done by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, participants that consumed Jasmine Rice within four hours of bed fell asleep in half the time of those that didn't. With that, plus the high glycemic index rating of this food, I’d call it a super sleep food!
And here are some more sleep-friendly food recommendations that you can pass along to your clients:
Just like eating and exercise, your clients are not going to get better sleep unless they learn the right habits to do so. The sleep strategies I’ve revealed in this article often yield great sleep, and weight-loss results.
And what happens when you help your clients get results? They’ll recommend more people to you!
So consider building these strategies into a weight-loss plan for your clients, one that helps them get better results, and one that sets you apart from other personal trainers who aren’t thinking holistically.