I’ve been in Spain for a couple of weeks now and I’m sleeping like a baby.

I sleep like a baby in London; in the sense that I wake up every two hours in tears (being woken up by partying neighbours) or needing the loo (because I was boozing until I fell into bed).

Now I am sleeping like a baby in the ideal way. I am going to bed early – no later than 10pm – and waking up naturally and feeling refreshed at about 6am. For the first time in years I am sleeping through the night, and love waking up before my alarm, making a coffee (black, no sugar), and getting ahead with emails as the sun comes up.

So what’s different? I am under the same work stress as always: actually, it’s a bit harder right now as I’m adjusting to being 3,000km from the office with only Skype and a dodgy w-fi connection keeping me in the loop with IronLife, the magazine I now edit.

But that’s had zero impact on my sleep. I can’t wait to get into bed at the end of the day so I am guessing it’s because I am so tired from the gym. To go from no training at all to a session under Nick Mitchell is like going for a walk to suddenly being strapped onto the front of a Maglev train – it’s terrifying, your feet barely touch the ground, and you have no idea when you’re going to stop moving.

Getting quality sleep night-in, night-out is essential for not just a successful body transformation, but also optimal health. Numerous studies have quashed the wishful-thinking theory that you can ‘catch up’ from burning the candle at both ends all week long by sleeping all weekend.

So, along with training under Nick and cleaning up my diet, I am prioritising getting a full eight hours of sleep every night. I make my room as dark as possible, turn off my laptop 30 minutes before bed, and switch my iPad onto night mode so I can read without being blinded by artificial light.

A successful transformation – like achieving success at anything in life – requires getting the big-picture pieces into place first. In this case that’s training smarter, eating cleaner and sleeping deeper.

JW biceps day 15 lower res

Touch wood, it’s working, and my performance in the gym is already improving. But I know from experience that progress will inevitably slow down as my body adjusts to my new lifestyle. That’s when the smaller pieces of the puzzle come into play to keep you on the path to progress. I’ll have to tell you more about later – it’s way past my bedtime.

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