Without a doubt there is an important connection between our sleep quality and our physical fitness goals.
Diet, motivation, timing, exercise, rest, and gear are the most common fitness subjects that we consider when plotting our goals. When expectations are not me, we’re most likely to blame one of these things.
Did you know, sleep plays a huge role in muscle recovery? Without adequate rest your body will fail to adapt to even the best training programs or nutritional plans. During nightly sleep cycles, growth hormones are produced and protein synthesis occurs. For active individuals this impacts your physical recovery, energy consumption, mental focus/alertness and overall readiness for tomorrow.
The Physical Benefits of Sleep:
- The repairing of muscle and other tissues, and the replacement of aging/dead cells.
- During REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement) the body will heal and restore organs, bones, and tissue. Replenishing immune cells and circulate human growth hormone.
- Sleep has a profound effect on overall muscle growth and physical/mental well being.
- The body has less of a need for energy consumption when sufficiently rested.
- During sleep the brain is recharges, increasing your alertness during your waking hours.
The Sleep Cycles:
The brain cycles through several stages during sleep, each lasting around around 90 minutes. The two different types of sleep are commonly classified as REM and non-REM sleep. Every sleep cycle will begin with 4 stages of non-REM sleep before reversing and REM will then conclude the rest period. Most people experience around five of these cycles each night.
Stage 1:The transition stage between asleep and awake, stage one non-REM sleep is the shortest period of sleep in the cycles.
Stage 2:The baseline of sleep. Non-REM sleep during stage 2 will account for the majority of your sleep time.
Stages 3 & 4:Non-REM sleep stages three and four are the deepest stages of sleep and the most restorativefor both the brain and body.
REM Sleep:The most active stage of sleep. Breathing, heart rate and brain activity rise during this stage.
Getting More of the Rest you Require:
Often it can feel challenging to get the great sleep you know you require. Sometimes, even when we are sleeping regularly the quality of the sleep may not be the best. Here are a few mindful ways to achieve better rest and reap the benefits associated.
- Curb Oversleeping: Constant oversleeping may interrupt your body clock overtime, pushing you into a new cycle - that you can’t/won’t complete. This will make trying to fall asleep later increasingly hard on you.
- Warm Bath and Daily Cool Down: A warm bath will soothe and relax the muscles you have been training while also putting you in a restful mindset. Lavender scents will ease anxiety and insomnia, increasing the onset of sleep.
- Post-Workout Insomnia: After an evening workout try practicing a few calming yoga poses right before bed to counteract that intense, just-exercised energy. Simple meditation can help too, a few slow, deep-belly breaths have also been shown to help calm the body.
- Watch What you Eat & Drink: Caffeine causes a hyperactive mind, leaving you restless far past bedtime. Caffeine is not the only slumber stealing villain though, here is a complete list of dietary items that affect your sleep.
- Quaint Sleeping Environment: Keep your room reasonably cool (60-67 degrees). Temperature plays a large role in your ability to enter deeper stages of sleep. Regularly update your sleeping necessities, from crisp cool sheets to a supportive pillow. Consider a foam mattress, designed with open cell materials that increase breathability to help you stay cool. Innovative foam mattresses also have layers of support for increased body alignment.
- Revisit Relaxing Routines: Adult brains crave routine just as much a child’s brain. Anything you can do habitually to cue your brain that it’s bedtime is beneficial — from reading a book, sipping some tea, a beauty routine, self-massage, meditation etc.
- Distractions in the Bedroom: Limit mental stimulations too close to bedtime. Harsh lights sounds and various other distractions can leave your brain alert and awake while your body is left exhausted.