The Impact of Sleep on Recovery: Athletes, Sleep, and Optimal Performance
You know what it’s like after you’ve given everything you’ve got at the gym. Whether you go hard in Crossfit, are devoted to Orangetheory workouts, training for a marathon, love Spinning or HIIT workouts, you push your body hard in order to get stronger, fitter, faster and firmer. Striving to maintain optimal fitness, whether you’re an Olympic athlete or a weekend warrior is an excellent goal and, yes, increasing intensity, weights, distance, or speed is what makes your performances better.
Don’t Overlook the Importance of Sleep in Your Training Regimen
Giving your body the chance to rest and recover between workouts contributes just as much to your performance as pushing your limit during your training sessions. It’s that resting phase between that allows the body to regenerate, repair, and recover. The body compensates for damage (for example small muscle tears that occur when you lift weights) by healing and making the damaged area stronger (in the example of weight-lifting, by building muscle tissue).
The time when this happens most efficiently is when your body is sound asleep. It’s during sleep that all manner of restorative processes are going on. From the secretion of hormones like testosterone (essential for muscle growth and repair) to revitalizing your central nervous system (necessary for allowing you to activate muscles quickly and efficiently when working out), the hours that you sleep are just as important for maintaining fitness as any number or type of workouts you integrate into your fitness program.
How Much Sleep Do You Need for Optimal Athletic Performance?
We’ve all heard the numbers and know that it’s important to get plenty of sleep. Experts recommend between 7-9 hours a night for most of us. But it’s equally important that the quality of sleep is good. Your body needs to be able to sink into a deep, non-REM sleep several times over the course of a series of 90-minute sleep cycles in order to reap the full benefits of a good night’s sleep.
There are many things you can do to ensure excellent sleep hygiene including sleeping in a dark room, implementing a relaxing pre-bedtime ritual, and adjusting the temperature so you aren’t too hot or too cold. A good mattress and a high-quality pillow like those made by Luxe Pillow also make a huge difference. When it comes to your health and well-being, any adjustments you make in the bedroom can reap large benefits when it comes to athletic performance.