“Eat train sleep repeat.”
While there are three important things for maintaining fitness, one often tends to focus on training well and eating well and ends up underestimating the importance of the need of good sleep for one’s body to recover after an intense training workout. Any fitness trainer would tell you the importance of good 7-9 hours of sleep and how it affects your muscle recovery.
Before talking about the impact of sleep, let’s learn about sleep itself. The human body has two phases of sleep namely rapid eye movement or REM sleep and non REM sleep. Now REM sleep occurs in cycles of about 90-120 minutes throughout the night, and it accounts for up to 20-25% of total sleep time in adult humans. REM sleep dominates the latter half of the sleep period, especially the hours before waking. REM sleep provides the energy to the brain that supports it during waking hours and is necessary for restoring the mind. Though it allows to you to wake up fresh and likely, it has no direct connection to muscle recovery. Now coming to non REM cycle also known as slow-wave or deep sleep, this phase is essential for muscle recovery and restoring the body. Accounting for 40% of total sleep time, during this phase your blood pressure drops and your breathing becomes deeper and slower. Your brain is resting with very little activity, so the blood supply available to your muscles increases, delivering extra amounts of oxygen and nutrients which facilitate their healing and growth. Muscles and tissues are rejuvenated during this phase of sleep. This phase is directly related to muscle recovery. Various researches have proven that more tired an individual is, more non REM sleep he/she will be able to get in their system.
Now we move to why non REM sleep is so special and important for muscle recovery. Well putting it in one word “HORMONES”. The human body releases hormones that are vital to recovery at night. One, in particular, is the human growth hormone (HGH). Recent researches have indicated that a “growth hormone surge” occurs about every two-hours during prolonged sleep. Growth hormone acts on many tissues to help promote healing, recovery, and growth, but it also helps to raise other hormones vital to recovery, such as insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1).Further in one study, sleep-deprived men were shown to have impaired glucose metabolism, decreased testosterone, and increased afternoon cortisol. Now impaired glucose impacts the digestion of the food ingested. Morning breakfast is often considered the most important and nutritious meal, will remain undigested and might even end up becoming fat if continuous lack of sleep over multiple days.
Among other things , one that has significance is that sleep allows your central nervous system (CNS) to recuperate and thereby less sleep will impact your fitness suffers since your CNS is responsible for triggering muscle contractions, reaction time, and response to pain. This in turn will make you start overloading your body on a larger scale and you’re going to become slower, weaker, maybe even less coordinated in your workouts. Lastly, proper sleep is vital to making decisions that may directly promote optimal recovery – through nutrition To sum it up Sleeping for 7-9 hours per night is crucial, especially if you are looking to change body composition, increase muscle mass and/or if you want to be ready for your personal training session the next day. Sleep enhances muscle recovery through protein synthesis and human growth hormone release.
Here is a mindboggling fact to end this blog:-Tennis superstar Roger Federer reportedly sleeps an average of 12 hours per night whereas as any common teenager get an average of 5-7 hours only. According to sleep foundation organization young adults require 7-9 hours of continuous sleep. However as much as ideal quantity of sleep matters, quality matters much more. 6 hours of deep sleep in twice as good as 12 hours of restless sleep. The end fact is, that it is IMPOSSIBLE to perform, recover, and grow without adequate sleep. In the words of famous neuroscientist Dr. Walker “Sleep is probably the greatest legal performance-enhancing drug but a very few are abusing it enough”.