T Nation

Sleepless Protocol?

My weightlifting (size and strength) has hit the shits in the last year due to lack of sleep. I have adequate nutrition to cover my goals, and followed T-Nation training programs to the t.

However, I only sleep 3-4 hours a night due to an intensive academic program, and a busy as hell summer with internships all day and work all night.

I’m not complaining, I’m just looking to see if there is any specific protocol to apply with weights/food that would make up for the lack of sleep while trying to bulk up. As far as I can see, I will only be getting 3-4 hours for quite some time, and I would like to due anything in my power to prevent this continual downward spiral of body composition.

( I mean people come up to me at least twice a day and say “what happened man, you used to be huge” etc.) To me even excess calories wont make up for the lack of sleep, but I would value all your opinions. So, with no sleep, do I have any hope of adding muscle?

[quote]jimmyjames66 wrote:
My weightlifting (size and strength) has hit the shits in the last year due to lack of sleep. I have adequate nutrition to cover my goals, and followed T-Nation training programs to the t.

However, I only sleep 3-4 hours a night due to an intensive academic program, and a busy as hell summer with internships all day and work all night.

I’m not complaining, I’m just looking to see if there is any specific protocol to apply with weights/food that would make up for the lack of sleep while trying to bulk up. As far as I can see, I will only be getting 3-4 hours for quite some time, and I would like to due anything in my power to prevent this continual downward spiral of body composition.

( I mean people come up to me at least twice a day and say “what happened man, you used to be huge” etc.) To me even excess calories wont make up for the lack of sleep, but I would value all your opinions. So, with no sleep, do I have any hope of adding muscle?[/quote]

Have you tried more food ?

Try sneaking in naps, 20 minutes 2-3 times a day will do wonders if you can’t get enough sleep at night. Also make sure you eat something before napping…

ShadOW

Nope. You’ve got so much cortisol running through you that its ridiculous. Cortisol will eat muscle away like acid. You’re not only losing muscle, but packing away fat around the abdominals as well. Shitty from a bodybuilding standpoint, but the good news is that you’re still alive.

When you’ve got that much cortisol running through you and so little growth hormone, you’re going to age like a son of a bitch over that time period. When I started law school, I had good muscle tone, strength, and was very lean. Despite improving my diet, the stress of the schooling and the frequent lack of sleep made me drop a ton of muscle and I started to accumulate fat as well. My hair started to fall out to boot. That kind of stress is a killer, man.

Having said all of that, I have found a few of things that seemed to make a tremendous difference:

  1. Drop carbs. At least for me, carbs would make me lethargic during the day. And I’m not talking about sugary carbs either. I used to be all about whole grain bread, oatmeal, brown rice, and fruit. Now I do no more than 50 grams (and mostly much less) during the weekdays. The result is that I can go on 4 or 5 hours of sleep for several days in a row and not feel the effects at all. I’m still peppy, have tons of energy, and can concentrate. I sleep deeper as well during the time I do sleep. I think a shift to being a fat burned reduces the negative effects of cortisol.

  2. Start taking maca. Maca does a lot to soothe a stressed out adrenal system. Basically when you sleep very little and bust your ass all day, you’re pumping out tons of cortisol and that stresses your adrenals out.

My understanding is that damage to the adrenals is not really repairable long term; when they’re worn out, they’re worn out. I believe that maca, in large enough doses, helps reduce cortisol and boosts GH and testosterone. PM if you’re interested and I’ll give you more info (and no I don’t sell it myself).

  1. Get to bed as early as possible. They say that an hour before midnight is worth two after. Not sure about that, but I have noticed that I’m much less tired if I get to bed at 10:30 p.m. and wake up at 5:00 a.m. than if I go from 1:30 a.m. to 7:00 a.m., for example.

Good luck and don’t keep this up for long if at all possible.

Sacrifice socializing. No, seriously. Also, what is this work that you’re so caught up in? Schooling + work? If that’s the case, good luck.

“Eic” That was a great post, very useful to me and I am sure the OP will benefit,

ShadoW

[quote]k.elkouhen wrote:
jimmyjames66 wrote:
My weightlifting (size and strength) has hit the shits in the last year due to lack of sleep. I have adequate nutrition to cover my goals, and followed T-Nation training programs to the t.

However, I only sleep 3-4 hours a night due to an intensive academic program, and a busy as hell summer with internships all day and work all night.

I’m not complaining, I’m just looking to see if there is any specific protocol to apply with weights/food that would make up for the lack of sleep while trying to bulk up. As far as I can see, I will only be getting 3-4 hours for quite some time, and I would like to due anything in my power to prevent this continual downward spiral of body composition.

( I mean people come up to me at least twice a day and say “what happened man, you used to be huge” etc.) To me even excess calories wont make up for the lack of sleep, but I would value all your opinions. So, with no sleep, do I have any hope of adding muscle?

Have you tried more food ?

[/quote]

My theory, however, with excess calories with a lack of sleep will contribute to excess fat gain? Am I wrong?

[quote]Mr. Clean & Jerk wrote:
Sacrifice socializing. No, seriously. Also, what is this work that you’re so caught up in? Schooling + work? If that’s the case, good luck.[/quote]

I do not socialize to an excessive degree. Believe me. And yes the work I speak of is school and job related.

[i]Wherever[/i] you can, take naps.

Stop doing all that is not necessary. That even includes weight training.

…thats right, I said it.

If you get 3 hrs a night, then you are risking your health and mental ability along with body comp goals.

How much time do you spend working out? one hour or more per day? plus you have to drive to the gym, and take a shower after the workout. That can add up to maybe 2 hours.

More sleep will mean better performance at your internship, better performance in school, and overall better health.

Eat, sleep, breath.

If one of these is not there then lifting is kind of pointless right?

However, if you can find time elsewhere, then by all means keep up the weight training.

good luck.

[quote]UB07 wrote:
Stop doing all that is not necessary. That even includes weight training.

…thats right, I said it.

If you get 3 hrs a night, then you are risking your health and mental ability along with body comp goals.

How much time do you spend working out? one hour or more per day? plus you have to drive to the gym, and take a shower after the workout. That can add up to maybe 2 hours.

More sleep will mean better performance at your internship, better performance in school, and overall better health.

Eat, sleep, breath.

If one of these is not there then lifting is kind of pointless right?

However, if you can find time elsewhere, then by all means keep up the weight training.

good luck.[/quote]

This guy may have a point and I’m not a subscriber to the 8 hours or death school at all. However sleep is essential and if you’re a person who MUST have significantly more than you can get he may be right. Or, cutting back on volume and or intensity until such time as you are able to sleep enough.

Having said all that myself, it’s a VERY rare person who truly cannot find some way to pursue their goals through smarter time management.

Make more time to get a few more hours of sleep. If you look at how long people take to eat, shower, and everything else, you can shave off 10-15 minutes throughout lots of points in your day to give yourself another 1-3 hours of sleep.

How your going to do that I have no idea but you will or will not make time :slight_smile:

[quote]shadowmoses wrote:
“Eic” That was a great post, very useful to me and I am sure the OP will benefit,

ShadoW[/quote]

You’re certainly welcome.

If you give us a schedule of your average day, maybe we can help you even better with managing your time.

Bullshit Adrenals are completely able to recover. You just have to know which side of the fence your on.

You need to do a saliva test taken at four points during the day, that measures your cortisol, dhea, testosterone (free), thyroid).

That guage will actually tell you more about how your body is handling your situations.

Its possible youve stressed yourself out so much that you start running off of adrenaline and your cortisol gets burnt out.

THat would show upin the AM as being very low cortisol output, when normally that would show up as the highest point in the day. If thats the case you would use licorice root cream to raise your cortisol.

But if your cortiosl is high in the day time all day long and not coming down you will need to take something like Phosphatdyl serine which will help keep cortisol low., that combined with lots of BCAAs.

Also taking so high quality raw adrenal pills, and lots of vitamin c.

If you really want this done right call the PPC center and ask to do a phone consultation.

Three hours of sleep? Continually?

What job or internship is worth the price of your health (or sanity)?

I think you have your priorities mixed up man. There is no excuse for getting that little for that long, and the price it will pay is large.

Rethink what you’re doing.

[quote]IronDude17 wrote:
If you give us a schedule of your average day, maybe we can help you even better with managing your time.[/quote]

Well its basically like this:

School year: M-F
Classes:8-1
Clinicals:1-5
class:6-8
Studying:until I get it done
I have a test or a quiz every day so there’s no real opportunity to study in advance so I often study the night before every night.
Weekends: Clinicals till about 3pm and then studying from there. (So I do a little studying in advance, but not much)Im just the type of kid who doesnt have the ability to remember or understand the stuff when I first learn it in class, so I just hammer it home as much as I can. I don’t sleep 3 hours every night, but at least 4 days a week I do.

You’re fucked. Nothing can make up for a lack of sleep. Deal with it.

[quote]jimmyjames66 wrote:
IronDude17 wrote:
If you give us a schedule of your average day, maybe we can help you even better with managing your time.

Well its basically like this:

School year: M-F
Classes:8-1
Clinicals:1-5
class:6-8
Studying:until I get it done
I have a test or a quiz every day so there’s no real opportunity to study in advance so I often study the night before every night.
Weekends: Clinicals till about 3pm and then studying from there. (So I do a little studying in advance, but not much)Im just the type of kid who doesnt have the ability to remember or understand the stuff when I first learn it in class, so I just hammer it home as much as I can. I don’t sleep 3 hours every night, but at least 4 days a week I do. [/quote]

Ok. Wow. That is very intense. Maybe keep the workouts to the weekend and like 1 day during the week where you don’t have to study or at least a night where you can make sure you can do the work in advance.

Or do some work/studying during a part of class time where they are just talking randomly. That’s rough though. Maybe just ask yourself this question each time you have a moment free: “What can I do now so I can have a minute to lift or sleep later?” Let us know how you end up changing the schedule.

[quote]Maybe keep the workouts to the weekend and like 1 day during the week where you don’t have to study or at least a night where you can make sure you can do the work in advance.

Or do some work/studying during a part of class time where they are just talking randomly. That’s rough though. Maybe just ask yourself this question each time you have a moment free: “What can I do now so I can have a minute to lift or sleep later?” Let us know how you end up changing the schedule.[/quote]

I agree with this. I’m a pretty busy guy also, and although I love staying in shape, there are times when I just have to let it go. It’s more important for me to get 5 or 6 hours of sleep than to get 3 or 4 plus training.

If it were once a week, it wouldn’t be such a big deal, but when it’s continuous like that… well, I think you’re going to have to bite the bullet