One Simple Tip to Boost Your Willpower Overnight - Diligent Fitness

One Simple Tip to Boost Your Willpower Overnight

Have you ever thought “I just need more willpower”. I have for sure.

Especially when it comes to taking control of food.

And at a first glace it makes total sense.

But after years of coaching clients through transforming how they look and feel I promise you that focusing on having more willpower isn’t the key.

Let me give you an example;

Looking in the wrong place

I had a chat with one of the guys at the gym last week who was struggling. We’d done his 30 day progress review. And while he’d got off to a great start he was disappointed that the weight hadn’t dropped as much as he’d expected (although 4.4lbs in 4 weeks is pretty decent).

He mentioned one of the biggest challenges was feeling tired a lot of the time. When he was tired, his willpower (and ability to turn down the tempting snacks and treats) plummeted.


He felt like he just needed to ‘be stronger’ and resist temptation.

But here’s the problem; No-one can just ‘have more willpower’. Just like we can’t magically ‘lose weight’.

Instead we need to focus on the habits that make having stronger willpower more likely.

So to build his willpower we looked at getting more rest and recovery. More specifically: getting quality sleep.

Get 7-8 hours Sleep Each Night

The client mentioned in the evening he’d spend time on Facebook, watching the news and staying up late into the night. By the time he got to bed he’d be getting 6 hrs sleep at best.

personal trainer near horsforth

Apparently that wasn’t enough for him to feel his best and be at his strongest. So we looked at change.

More Sleep Builds Your Willpower

Well, that’s not exactly true. But what more sleep does do is reduce the things that make it hard to start on track:

  1. Less sleep is associated with lower levels of hunger suppressing hormones (like leptin). Meaning when you don’t get enough sleep you have a larger appetite and more food cravings.
  2. More hours awake = more time to be thinking about food. Most clients find late evening ‘the witching hour’ where extra snacking on foods is just too hard to resist.
  3. Low energy and tiredness = more food cravings. Hard to resist that bar of chocolate when you need a quick pick me up.
  4. Sleep helps regulate our blood sugar and insulin levels. And when we don’t get enough of it, we can’t properly control our glucose and insulin levels. This means blood sugar problems that can eventually lead to excess fat storage, obesity and type 2 diabetes.
  5. Bonus point: sleep improves our memory formation and recall. So we think more clearly, make better decisions and learn more effectively when well-rested.

“Recent research shows that while different people function best with different amounts of sleep each night, less than 2% of people thrive with fewer than 7 hours per night”.

How to Get More (Quality) Sleep

So you know sleep’s going to help you stay strong, make better food choices and ultimately help you reach your goals. Now let’s look at some specific strategies to get more sleep in your life

Limit caffeine to morning with no caffeine-containing beverages after 2pm

Caffeine is a stimulant that stays in your body for up to six hours after ingesting it. So if you’re fairly sensitive to coffee or energy drinks, it’s recommended you decrease your caffeine intake or at least cut it off by mid-afternoon.

Caffeine containing beverages include coffee, black and green tea, most fizzy drinks, energy drinks, yerba mate, and (gasp) dark chocolate.


Do a Brain dump 2 hours before bed

If it’s ever taken you an hour plus to get to sleep, you’ve experienced the dreaded “mind jumble”. You know, planning the next day, going over stuff that happened earlier, or just thinking about nothing in particular, it’s easy to get lost in our heads when trying to sleep.

A brain dump is exactly as it sounds: getting thoughts out of your head (and onto paper). So take out a pen and piece of paper, plan your next day, make a note to call your friend back, and remind yourself of the meeting next Tuesday.

Write it all down, clear your mind, and get to bed. The paper will still be there in the morning. But your brain will be clear and clean, ready for sleep.

Turn tv/computer off 2 hours before bed

While watching TV or playing on the computer may seem relaxing they’re actually stimulatory experiences — they’re engaging your brain and emotions even if you don’t consciously realize it.

Plus our brain and body are sensitive to light. Generally light means wake up it’s daytime. So the artificial light from screens encourage our body to pump out adrenaline and cortisol. Two hormones that make it very hard to get restful sleep.

Turn phone and gadgets off and plug in another room

Recent research suggests that eliminating radio frequency (RF) sources — like the ones found in mobile phones — will enable your body to “shut down” more efficiently.

These RF signals may interfere with your body’s immune system and have a negative impact on sleep quality and general health.

Phone Off

Your best bet is to leave your phone charging in another room. And if you use your phone as an alarm clock, consider buying a battery-operated clock instead.

(Besides, you don’t want to hear text message pings while you’re trying to sleep — much too tempting to check).

Make yourself a non-caffeinated tea, listen to relaxing music, read something light

Drink tea? Listen to relaxing music? Isn’t that for hippies? Maybe so, but the scientists love it too. Reading light fiction while sipping on hot herbal tea gets you out of your mind and into a story.

It regulates your breathing and signals to your body that you’re “shutting down” for the evening.

Set bedroom temperature between 19-21deg

While the exact temperature is different for everyone, a slightly cooler room is important for helping you fall asleep. (If you keep your home much warmer, you’ll likely experience a little discomfort the first few nights at the new, lower temperature. However, hang in there as it really does work).

Take an Epsom salt bath before bed

Taking a bath before bed is another way to relax and prepare your body for sleep, especially if you include 1-2 cups of magnesium-based Epsom salts.

Magnesium is an important mineral involved in promoting sleep. And, as it can be absorbed through the skin during baths, Epsom salts are great for sleep. Athletes also swear by this for recovery.

Experiment with pre-bed meal

Going to bed while physically hungry will make it harder to go to sleep, since your body will be in “food-seeking mode.”

Also, one of the culprits for groggy mornings is low blood sugar. To combat low blood sugar, try eating something light with a little bit of high quality fat. Try something like celery sticks (or other veggie) with a tablespoon of almond butter.

Take it one step at a time

Better sleep doesn’t just stop you going Cray-Cray. It has a huge impact on our willpower and food habits too.

Now, you obviously don’t have to do all the above. I’d recommend picking one or two ideas to try tonight and give them a go.

And like any habit, give it two weeks of dedicated practice before you decide if it’s working.

“Dolphins can stay active and alert for 15 days straight by sleeping half their brain at a time. Shame we’re not dolphins!”



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