The Importance of Sleep
Sleep is the absolute key ingredient to recovery and our overall well being. It is the most important thing you can do for your body and your mind. All the stress and hardships of the day can stack up. When you sleep, your body can heal and your mind can clear.
For those that have sleeping issues, exercise has been shown to help improve sleep quality and length. Exercising in the morning or afternoon can fix your sleep-wake cycle, which will cause sleepiness later in the day from the changes in core temperature. Also, it is not bad if you exercise at night; some people experience an exhaustion effect from exercise, while others become energized.
When you sleep, your body increases the amount of hormones it secretes, which can help repair your damaged muscles and help them grow. Testosterone is a major player in muscle growth and repair, and secretion peaks in deep REM cycle sleep. REM sleep is thought to be that critical part of our sleep that rejuvenates and heals us most effectively. Human Growth Hormone is the other major player in muscle recovery, and as you can guess, it is released into your body, in high amounts while you are in dreamland.
The better you sleep, the harder you can work out the next day. This is because your body and mind are fully recovered from the day before. Your central nervous system is ready to fire at full blast, and your muscles are repaired from yesterday’s squat mayhem at the gym. If you did not get proper sleep the night before, you can start a negative feedback loop, which can start the overtraining process and drop your metabolism and recovery to no end.
Sleep quality is also important. Say you get 9 hours of sleep, but you were tossing and turning and checking your phone all night. This is not going to get you to those deep REM cycles needed for better recovery. You might as well try for 6 quality hours, than 9 bad hours of sleep, although 8-9 hours of quality sleep is better than anything out there! Make sure that your bedroom is a great environment to sleep. Have your thermostat set a few degrees lower at night, to lower your core temperature, and try to avoid using your phone before bed, but if you can’t break that habit, turn on a blue light filter.