Sleep is Essential for Recovery
I have decided to dedicate this blog entry to highlighting the importance of sleep not just as a means of achieving better hypertrophy (better strength gains and muscle size/reduction of fat over time) but because I think that sleep is a very much underrated factor of recovery. Remember, sleep and nutrition are part of the fitness equation. I also believe that strength training can actually lead to better and deeper sleep and have found research to support this theory.
High-Intensity Exercise can help enforce Deeper Sleep
Let us start with what lack of sleep can mean to you whether you are a beginner at the gym or any sport or just looking to get healthier. Lack of sleep, which for an adult is anything less than seven hours can lead to “impaired cognitive performance, lowered mood, impaired appetite regulation, immunity function and glucose metabolism.” (Interrelationship between Sleep and Exercise: A Systematic Review, n.d., p. 07)
Furthermore, “the process of sleep also affects the brain at an endocrine level.” (Interrelationship between Sleep and Exercise: A Systematic Review, n.d., p. 07). The journal of Advances in Preventive Medicine explored the relationship between quality of sleep and both low and high intensity exercise to find that high intensity exercise leads to a deeper sleep than the former kind of exercise.
What happens to my body when it is sleep deprived?
Lack of sleep negatively affects mood and can lead to anxiety. If lack of sleep becomes chronic, it will “result in weakened immunity, increased pain, impaired performance, increased error and greater risk of accident.” (Interrelationship between Sleep and Exercise: A Systematic Review, n.d., p. 02)
Chronic lack of sleep can be prevented in the following ways:
- Do not use your cell phone an hour before you sleep. In particular, it is the over-stimulation in the evening hours before you sleep that are responsible for interrupted sleep. A simple trick is to put your phone in another room, make sure that the room is not too far in case you need your alarm clock.
- Dot not exercise too early or too late in the evening as the timing can disrupt sleep. Aim to exercise during mid-morning, noon or afternoon.
- Contrary to popular advice, naps can be beneficial in boosting energy when one finds themselves sleep deprived. Take them as often as you need when you find that you have skipped out on some hours of sleep, they will help re-energize your body.
Finally, as this is a recovery-themed post, I would like to share the general guidelines for sleep based on age:
- Teens: 8-10 hours
- Younger adults: 7-9 hours
- Adults: 7-9 hours
- Older Adults: 7-8 hours
Exercise is commonly prescribed as treatment to help sleep-deprived individuals get deep sleep, I highly encourage active individuals or beginners to see recovery as part of the fitness process and to take the aforementioned steps to make the best out of those sleeping hours.
Dresdin, A. (n.d.). The Importance of Sleep for Weightlifters and other Athletes. Retrieved from https://breakingmuscle.com/fitness/the-importance-of-sleep-for-weightlifters-and-other-athletes
Interrelationship between Sleep and Exercise: A Systematic Review. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5385214/