Up Your Game Without Even Trying

You can spend a fortune on lotions and potions, sweat it out in the gym, and study until the small hours - but if you’re missing this one vital step, all your efforts will be in vain. To be the best you can be, you need to sleep on it.

What if we told you of a simple trick you could do at home to guarantee bigger muscles, and have better, clearer skin? What if we told you the secret formula you needed was free, and was something you could do almost immediately, with no training, no monthly subscriptions. And was, actually, very enjoyable.

Wait. Before you report us for online scamming, we’re gonna fess up. That magic potion? It’s sleep.

Because, increasingly, what we’re finding out is that evolution was right all along. Who knew?

We need sleep. On average, we need a solid eight hours of shut eye to be our best. Because, let’s face it - evolution’s had plenty of practice to get it right. And sleep is a curious thing: we’re vulnerable, we’re fasting, we’re cut off from any external stimuli - and that prowling pack of wolves could strike us without knowing. So, if we could have done without sleep, our bodies would have found a way by now. But the simple fact is - they haven’t. So if you think you can outrun it we’ve got news for you: you can’t.

Here’s the thing. You don’t build muscles in the gym. No matter how much you’re benching. How isolated your biceps are on those dumbbell curls, all you’re doing is breaking down your muscle fibres. The real transformation happens when you’re in deep sleep. That’s when the body releases human growth hormone: the proteins Skip sleep and your muscles will just stay tired, burned out and exactly the same size they were before you maxed out on the lat pulldown machine.

Same with skin. Nighttime is when the body’s garbage removal squad gets to work - flushing out toxins, scavenging dead epidermal cells, and regenerating city-stressed skin. Free of the onslaught of ultraviolet rays, the heat of your wood burning stove, and the pollutants of the daily commute, it can breathe again.

And here’s the kicker. We might think we can beat the clock and stay up til stupid o’clock binge-watching Narcos or finishing that Powerpoint presentation. But our bodies run to a much more ancient circadian rhythm. We can fight the daily battle, but ultimately, we’ll lose the war.

Here’s what’s happening. A couple of hours after the sun sets, our skin starts to prepare for slumber. The sleep hormone, melatonin starts to be released - and that not only triggers tiredness, but also boosts our skin’s ability to repair itself. DNA damage from UV exposure is fixed, as melatonin works hard to wipe clean the day’s transgressions.  That’s why any topical treatments are based applied between 9 and 11 pm, when your skin is most receptive to taking in the active ingredients in moisturisers and serums.

Then, as we head into the land of nod, that all-important human growth hormone sets to work,  accelerating skin's repair and cell regeneration. Between midnight and 4AM, our cell production can double, and if we’re in a deep sleep, even triple. This is where great skin begins. Not when you’re hunched over your iPad trying to bid on a vintage Technics turntable at 3 in the morning. Just so you know.

Our skin’s stem cells, the mother cells responsible for making fresh new cells and replacing aged cells, are only able to do their miraculous thing when we’re not looking. They’re shy like that.

So, armed with this information, what you gonna do about it? Well, if you’re one of the estimated five million Brits who find it difficult to get that quality shut eye every night, help is at hand. Tune in next week and we’ll talk you through the five scientifically proven methods you can do to ensure you start every day a little bit better.

That’s got to be worth setting your alarm clock for, right?