When you read bodybuilding advice sites they always say - get lots of sleep (8 hours) and everyone knows that "you don't build muscles in the gym you build them while your body is at rest"
SO what do you do when you are getting 8 or more hours of sleep and yet you still feel tired and exhausted and see no gains in the gym?
That’s what was happening to me.
I always felt tired as a kid. I never had energy and would fall asleep during the day. Oh well I guess I was just fat and lazy.....
When I was in University and went to the gym it always felt like I was depleting an energy tank that would never fill back up. Eventually I would quit because I was so tired I was falling asleep in class. I wasn`t as fat then, so ``oh well you were just overtraining and under a lot of stress....``
Fast forward to two years ago where my girl and I are having problems in our relationship. Why? Because I snore really loud and so she gets no sleep – to the point where she gets up and goes and sleeps in a different room (ironically she is now like me – exhausted during the day). I figure it’s because I am fatter now(I was always kinda chubby but the 35 years old metabolism slowing down thing coupled with my TV fixation and lack of exercise has made it worse).....
So I’m driving home from work and I see a sleep clinic building just opened up in my neighbourhood. The sign says stop snoring. I immediately turn right and go in. They ask me to fill out a questionnaire that asks things like do you snore (yes), how many times a night do you wake up (3-4), how old are you, blah blah blah – but one of the questions is “has anyone ever told you you stop breathing when you sleep”. At first I put “no” but when I got to thinking about it my brother used to bug me about it when we were kids – so I you back and put “yes”.
They give me a small machine like a headband to take home. I strap it to my head, put the nose bit in my nostrils and go to sleep. When I wake up I go to and drop it off at the clinic where they do an immediate reading of the data stored in the machine.
Then the clinic girl grabs my questionnaire, grabs the results, grabs a chair and sitting in front of me says; ``you wrote that you wake up 3-4 times a night`` and I say ``correct``. She tells me the data they collected says I am waking up 73 TIMES AN HOUR because I stop breathing.
I am stunned.
She asks about the yes answer to the question regarding stopping breathing and I tell her that my brother busted my balls about it when I was 8 years old. She says I have likely been living with sleep apnea all my life. She says there are several cures including operations but she says the best results are with a machine called a CPAP machine – Constant Positive Air Pressure.
So I buy one – a small CPAP that sits beside the bed and pushes air through a hose into a mask that is connected to my face. AND I HATE THIS FUCKING THING. It makes me feel like a hundred year old man connected to and oxygen bottle, like the weird medical droid in Star Wars with the tube thing on its face, or like I`m sleeping with the face hugger from Alien. And it`s a fat persons disease right – only fat people get this apnea. And I know it isn`t a sexy look.
I wake up in the middle of the night and rip the mask off and chuck it as far as it will go across the room on it`s stupid fucking tube and then go back to sleep (where I wake up 72 times per hour).
Needless to say there is a breaking in period. But during this something happens – my mom goes to see a doctor and discovers that she has apnea too. And she is skinny as a rail and eats well. Hmm. When I talk to her about it she keeps it real – you could have lung cancer where they take out your lung, or testicular cancer where you lose a nut, but no, instead you just have to wear a little machine. And she tells me to Google Reggie White (who died from sleep apnea).
My girl has been totally supportive through this whole thing too – thank God for her – and even though I suspect it`s so she can get a good night’s sleep finally, I need her investment to keep using the CPAP.
And now – the difference is night and day (yay puns!)
I am a different person. My mood is up, my productivity is up, and everything is moving in a positive direction. And so when I finally decided to go to the gym the difference there was amazing – I can get stronger. When in University I could bench 170lbs max. Now I can bench 245 x 3 – after 2 months in the gym. I could only squat 145 – now I do 365 x 4
I`m not a bodybuilder (and if I was people could definitely see I`m doing it wrong) but I enjoy my life more with exercise in it. I am not an authority on weight lifting.
But I can say without any shadow of a doubt that you need your sleep in order to grow and develop.