When designing a training regime, most people focus on aspects like nutrition and workout routines. However, most people fail to consider another important element: muscle recovery. Training means stressing the muscles to the point where they need to rebuild their tissues, and that process is achieved through adequate sleep.
You might not think so, but a good sleep schedule can significantly improve your performance and help you achieve your goals faster. The opposite is also true: being more active will improve the quality of your rest and your sleep.
How Sleep Affects Your Training
Different stages of the nightly sleep cycle have different functions.
Rapid Eye Movement (REM) Sleep is predominant in the hours before waking. The main function of this stage is recharging the energy needed by the brain to function during waking hours.
Non-REM sleep accounts for the rest of the nightly sleep cycle. This stage is more restful: your body remains in a peaceful state, your blood pressure is lower and your breathing, deeper. Because the brain has less activity, the blood is free to flow through the muscles in order to deliver nutrients and oxygen, which the cells in muscle tissue use in order to restore damages and stimulate growth.
One of the nutrients replenished during sleep is glucose, which is the only sugar that the body is able to break down and use for energy. When we sleep, glucose gets stored in the muscles as glycogen. Glycogen is a better source of energy.
If you don’t get enough sleep, you don’t restore the glycogen stored in the muscles at the rate you need, and thus your energy reserves can be depleted.
Another very important compound that is released and circulates through the body during sleep is the human growth hormone (HGH). One of the main functions of HGH is to break down the protein we ingest into amino acids for the body to use.
If the body doesn’t get the quality and quantity of sleep that it needs, it won’t be able to perform this function as it should. For an athlete, the consequences would be increased fatigue and not seeing the desired results from their training.
Less Sleep, Lower Performance
Aside from allowing the muscles to rest and recover for them to better absorb the results of training, lack of sleep also affects an athlete’s performance in other ways.
Whether or not you are an active person, lack of sleep lowers your energy levels and can lead to mood swings. This might seem unrelated, but there are studies that show that our moods or emotional state can have a direct effect on performance.
A good mindset in training sessions due to good sleep will lead to better performance during that session, as well as better long-term results.
Are 7 Hours of Sleep Enough?
Most experts recommend between seven and nine hours of sleep per night for the average adult. This amount of time allows for an optimum sleep cycle and provides adequate rest.
However, for athletes or people going through rigorous training, this might not be enough. Each person is different and each person’s sleep cycle is different, but people who train hard might possibly need more hours of sleep in order to provide the rest their body needs.
How Can You Improve Your Rest?
If you don’t feel like you’re getting enough rest, even if you are sleeping the recommended hours each night, there are certain things you can do to improve the quality of your sleep and feel more energized. The choice of mattress and bedding is crucial to the quality of your sleep. Bamboo bed sheets are soft to touch and help regulate body temperature to keep cool in summer and warm in winter. You may want invest in a Kallysleep recovery pillow, which may help you recover faster from strenuous workouts.
Keep a Good Sleep Schedule
The body has a natural 24-hour cycle. This is known as the circadian rhythm. You might think that it doesn’t matter when you sleep, so long as you are sleeping between seven and nine hours.
This is a common misconception. If you go to sleep late and wake up later the next morning, you are disrupting your body’s natural circadian rhythm, and your body will not get the same quality of rest.
Try going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day in order to get your body used to that routine. A regular routine will lead to a better sleep quality, making you feel more rested and with more energy.
Make Yourself Comfortable
Waking up several times during the night can disrupt your sleep cycle, and that can mean that you don’t get the rest you need.
Kallysleep says that you can take simple measures, such as wearing a sleep mask, getting a better pillow, or using white noise to help you sleep can considerably increase your sleep quality. Even setting your room’s temperature a little lower can have significant results, because our body gets better rest in colder temperatures.
Avoid Exercising Before Bed
High-intensity activity, such as a workout, before bed leads to a restless sleep. These kinds of activities give the body a great amount of energy, which is counterproductive when you are trying to sleep.
Try not to work out less than three hours before your bedtime.
Be Careful with What You Eat Before Bed
There are certain foods and drinks that you should avoid before bed, like alcohol and caffeine.
While drinking alcohol right before bed can help you fall asleep faster, it also prevents you from entering into a deep sleep, which disrupts your sleep cycle and prevents your body from getting the rest and energy it needs.
Caffeine is well known for its stimulating effects, and that’s why experts recommend avoiding consuming it several hours before going to bed.
Sleep is an important factor when it comes to muscle recovery, but it is not usually considered when designing workouts and training routines.
If you are not getting the results you want from your training even if you are doing everything right, lack of sleep might be the answer. Try taking small measures towards improving the quality of your rest, and you will see results. Even small changes will help you improve your sleep.