Strongman Mitchell Hooper Dissects 9 Strategies for High-Quality Sleep

2023 World’s Strongest Man (WSM) and 2024 Arnold Strongman Classic champion Mitchell Hooper is prepping for his first WSM title defense at the 2024 WSM on May 1-5, 2024. Among all aspects of his prep, the most crucial is high-quality sleep. 

I think sleep is the closest performance-enhancing drug that is approved by WADA.

Mitchell Hooper

“Sleep is the most important thing…to get your life, weight, and health on track; anything in the physical or mental realm,” says Hooper. Check out his explanation for why high-quality sleep is so critical and nine tips for improved shuteye below:

[Related: Top Tips For Sleeping Your Way to Improved Performance and Health]

Why Sleep Is Important?

A simple Google search could explain how sleep can enhance physical performance, help prevent injuries, and improve mental health. Hooper delved deeper, referencing John Hopkins Medicine to underscore the serious health risks associated with poor sleep, including increased chances of developing dementia, Type 2 diabetesobesityheart disease, and certain cancers.

Sleep deprivation can trigger hormonal imbalances, significantly impairing daily functions. Difficulty waking up and fatigue midway through the day are tell-tale signs of insufficient sleep.

Hooper’s Tips to Get Better Sleep

Hooper detailed the sustainable, effective practices he implements for sufficient sleep.

1. Set Room Temperature

Hooper suggested that the perfect sleep temperature varies. Typically, women prefer warmer conditions, and men opt for cooler ones. Having a consistent, comfortable temperature throughout the night is critical:

“The room should be slightly cooler than you want,” says Hooper. “We all know that cozy feeling underneath the cover when everything else is cool. That is when you’ll sleep.” (1)

2. Use CPAP Machine

Hooper and many other strongmen rely on continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines for restful sleep. The American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine indicates that sleep apnea patients experience improved sleep quality using a CPAP machine. (2)

3. Limit Electronics (Blue Light)

Hooper limits blue light exposure — the type emitted from smartphones — after 8 p.m. to align his circadian rhythm. Hooper suggested that sleep attained before midnight is significantly more restorative than sleep that begins after midnight.

4. Sleep in a Dark Room

The 2023 WSM presented a meta-analysis that displays the negative impact of nighttime light exposure on sleep quality. (3) To mitigate this, Hooper recommends using blackout curtains if not going to bed after dark.

Image via Shutterstock/Gorodenkoff

“We have curtains that block out the light, but our room still lights up in the morning,” shared Hooper. “As much as we did our best to make the room as dark as possible, I just prioritize sleeping when it’s dark outside.”

5. Avoid Caffeine

Although Hooper is relatively insensitive to caffeine, he’s reduced his consumption to improve his sleep. Conventional wisdom advises against caffeine consumption later in the day.

Delving into a meta-analysis, Hooper highlights recommendations for consuming caffeine and pre-workout caffeine at least nine and 13 hours before sleep, respectively, to prevent disrupting sleep patterns. (4) That might be a tough guideline to follow, but one Hooper adheres to as best he can.

6. Baby Considerations

Hooper discussed the challenges of disrupted sleep with a newborn, crediting his wife for handling nighttime care, though he acknowledges this solution may not suit everyone.

Image via Shutterstock/New Africa

Hooper noted that their baby sleeps separately from their room, with a baby monitor placed by his wife’s side of the bed. They also use a white noise machine to improve sleep quality in their bedroom.

7. Cold Exposure Before Bed

Exposure to cold before bed can enhance sleep quality, per Hooper. Hooper typically spends five to 10 minutes outdoors in the Canadian winter each night before sleeping. Individuals who cool down before bed tend to fall asleep faster. (5)

8. Exercise Daily 

Strongmen typically exercise in lower volumes, but what matters is daily physical activity to help improve sleep. Consequently, he emphasizes the importance of remaining active, aiming for at least 30 minutes of movement each day. The Journal of Physiotherapy suggests regular, consistent exercise enhances sleep quality. (6)

9. THC?

THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana, helps Hooper fall asleep in minutes.  (7) Admittedly, CBD didn’t have the same effects on him. However, one should always consult a physician before trying a new supplement of any kind, and Hooper advises caution as well:

“Important disclaimer here: if you are just looking to be as healthy as you can be, is it something you should be doing? I’m not convinced.”

Get to Bed!

Ultimately, Hooper suggests prioritizing sleep as the primary factor to improve athletic performance and overall health.

[Learn More: How to Get Optimal Sleep to Recover]


Fan, X., Shao, H., Sakamoto, M., Kuga, K., Lan, L., Wyon, D. P., . . . Wargocki, P. (2022). The effects of ventilation and temperature on sleep quality and next-day work performance: pilot measurements in a climate chamber. Building and Environment, 209, 108666.

Redline, S., Adams, N., Strauss, M. E., Roebuck, T., Winters, M., & Rosenberg, C. (1998). Improvement of mild sleep-disordered breathing with CPAP compared with conservative therapy. American journal of respiratory and critical care medicine, 157(3 Pt 1), 858–865. 

Xu, Y. X., Zhang, J. H., Tao, F. B., & Sun, Y. (2023). Association between exposure to light at night (LAN) and sleep problems: A systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. The Science of the total environment, 857(Pt 1), 159303.

Gardiner, C., Weakley, J., Burke, L. M., Roach, G. D., Sargent, C., Maniar, N., Townshend, A., & Halson, S. L. (2023). The effect of caffeine on subsequent sleep: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Sleep medicine reviews, 69, 101764.

Lastella, M., Roach, G., Halson, S. L., & Sargent, C. (2019). The effects of cold water immersion on the amount and quality of sleep obtained by elite cyclists during a simulated hill climbing tour. Sport Sciences for Health, 15(1), 223–228. 

Yang, P. Y., Ho, K. H., Chen, H. C., & Chien, M. Y. (2012). Exercise training improves sleep quality in middle-aged and older adults with sleep problems: a systematic review. Journal of physiotherapy, 58(3), 157–163.

Gorelick, D. A., Goodwin, R. S., Schwilke, E., Schroeder, J. R., Schwope, D. M., Kelly, D. L., Ortemann-Renon, C., Bonnet, D., & Huestis, M. A. (2013). Around-the-clock oral THC effects on sleep in male chronic daily cannabis smokers. The American journal on addictions, 22(5), 510–514. 

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