Mark “Smelly” Bell, better known as the “Meathead Millionaire,” might be a world-record-breaking powerlifter and overall beefy guy, but he isn’t free of health concerns—particularly when it comes to sleep. Like many powerlifters, Bell suffers from sleep apnea, a sleeping problem in which breathing is repeatedly interrupted.
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by periods of interrupted breathing during sleep, which are generally followed by gasping or choking and a dry mouth or sore throat after waking up. Those who suffer from sleep apnea typically snore loudly, have daytime fatigue as a result of insufficient restful sleep, and have trouble focusing.
To assist with his own sleep problems, Bell has begun conducting different methods to enhance his sleep. On a recent podcast, Bell shared some of the habits he’s developed to improve his sleep schedule and help him get better rest.
On the podcast, Bell claims he’s suffered from sleep apnea and other sleep problems for years with no clear source. The 45-year-old powerlifter suggests that his lack of sleep is due to stress, intensive workouts, or performance-enhancing drugs. Sleep apnea is an actual problem faced by powerlifters and those who strength train to extremes. Some people believe that it’s due to thicker neck muscles, greater body weight, and the use of performance-enhancing drugs. Sleep issues in these groups may also be attributed to a higher resting heart rate among powerlifters, which can keep the body active even when at rest.
The most significant change, according to Bell, is that I am pushing myself more now than ever with breathing. Learning about nasal breathing and doing exercises that are difficult for me to breathe at a bigger volume
As a result of embracing running and mobility-focused exercises, he claims to have seen an improvement in his sleep. He’s also begun receiving myofascial treatment, a rigorous massage technique that focuses on relieving pain caused by the tough membranes connecting and supporting your muscles. Many people who receive myofascial treatment claim to experience restful periods afterward.
Dr. Bell does not utilize a CPAP machine, which many sleep apnea specialists prescribe for treatment purposes. He employs a dentist-built mouthpiece and mouth tape to assist him in opening his airway. His mouthpiece forces his tongue to the roof of his mouth and aligns his jaw, allowing non-obstructed breathing. The mouth tape helps prevent breathing through the mouth during sleep, which causes noisy snoring, and it makes a person breathe through the nose for greater (and quieter) rest.
“It’s very unlikely that the first thing you come upon will be the solution,” Bell adds. “The best approach is to try one little change at a time and see if anything positive happens.”