Exercise is stressful!! But it’s a stress we all need to put ourselves through because we need to exercise, right?
This being the case, it’s important to understand the link between sleep and exercise recovery. What’s the one thing you’re already doing that has MANY benefits and helps with recovery……..guaranteed?
Getting enough optimal sleep. Was that your answer?
Your body needs to recover from your workouts AND prepare for the next exercise session. If I haven’t convinced you with all the many articles I’ve sent you on the importance of sleep, maybe these six benefits of sleep for exercise recovery will do the trick!
• The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. Increasing sleep time by one hour per night is like getting an entire extra night’s worth of sleep over the course of a week. How you recover (refuel, rehydrate and sleep) allows you to reach your exercise goals
• One function of sleep is to allow time for muscles to repair themselves. Growth hormone is an anabolic hormone produced during stage 3 of non-rapid eye movement (NREM), or dreamless sleep, and helps repair tissues damaged during exercise. It follows then that the longer sleep times provide more time for muscle tissues to regenerate and grow.
• Insufficient sleep could result in higher levels of catabolic hormones responsible for energy production. Have you ever been completely exhausted but couldn’t fall asleep? Or if you did sleep you woke up not feeling completely rested? It could be the result of elevated sympathetic nervous system (SNS) activity and higher levels of the hormone cortisol.
• Being overly tired, especially during exercise, could result in reduced reflex times or poor judgement. This often leads to injury. One important benefit of sleep is that it allows time for the removal of unnecessary metabolic waste from brain cells. Think of sleep as the time when your brain is removing unwanted waste, while also enhancing blood flow to cells and bringing important oxygen and glycogen necessary for optimal cognitive performance.
• Metabolic overload occurs when muscles exercise to the point of fatigue, exhausting the amount of glycogen available for energy production. While you’re sleeping, your body continues to digest carbohydrates from your diet and metabolize them into glycogen, which is then stored in muscles cells to fuel muscles and help them grow.
• Adequate sleep promotes optimal function of the immune system. Outside of traumatic injury, illness is the second leading cause of missed playing time for athletes. We’re all athletes! You do not have to play sports to receive this benefit. No matter what your job may be, getting great sleep supports a strong immune system, which, in turn, reduces the risk of becoming sick. This allows you to optimize your performance and be more productive.
Here’s an interesting idea and way to approach your exercise schedule!
To ensure optimal performance during your workouts, it’s a good idea to plan your workouts based on the sleep you’ll be able to get each night.
For example, if your evening plans include attending a concert or a late night out with friends, you are less likely to get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep.
This does not mean you should skip your workouts! Instead, try to schedule your high-intensity workouts on days when you plan to get a great night’s sleep and plan lower-intensity workouts on days when your normal nighttime routine might be disrupted. Taking your evening plans into account as you schedule your workouts can help to ensure that you are properly prepared for the more challenging workout sessions that can provide the desired results.
Remember, too much exercise and too little sleep could result in overtraining, which, at best, could keep you from reaching your goals and, at worst, lead to an injury that doesn’t allow you to exercise at all.
As I often mention, consistent trumps intensity every time. Keeping yourself in the exercise game plus adequate sleep leads to the results you’re working for.
Don’t forget, exercise is good for your brain, too! Here’s what I recommend.
Until next month, sleep well and stay active!