Sleep is an important aspect of any training regimen, the same as recovery. If you focus on getting your reps or other workout routines done when you lack enough sleep, you increase your risk of getting injured, prevent your body from healing, lose focus and well, botch any training plans you may have. But why exactly is sleep so important after exercise?
The main role of sleep is to replenish the body’s energy supplies that have been used up during the day. Research suggest that those who have a high level of intellectual and physical activity need more quality sleep to fully recuperate from the day’s activities.
Quality is better than quantity
After a heavy workout, eight hours of being in bed won’t matter if you’re not really able to sleep well – say, if you toss and turn because of a lumpy or too-hard mattress. Aim for quality, restful sleep. Six hours of deep, high-quality, restorative sleep is better than eight hours of light, low-quality sleep. Try and get yourself a high quality memory foam mattress which hugs the contours of your body.
Determine what keeps you up at night – is it your mattress or the food you ate (did you eat anything spicy or fatty before bed)? Keep good sleep habits so you can get optimal rest.
To help promote recovery after a workout (you can’t really sleep all day), you can either skip training or train at a minimal level of effort if you feel sluggish or fatigued. This is your body telling you that it’s still in recovery mode. Let your body rest and heal and when you feel fully recovered, that’s when it’s best to do your workouts.
Sleep recharges your entire system
Sleep does more than just give your brain a break. It restores your energy stores and lets your central nervous system recuperate. The nervous system is responsible for triggering pain response, reaction time and muscle contractions, so if you don’t let it recharge, you’re bound to become less coordinated during workouts.
During sleep, your endocrine system also secretes hormones that promote protein synthesis for muscle growth. If your body has not recovered, testosterone drops and this will affect your body’s functions. You’ll also notice you’re weaker and slower, making you want to push yourself harder when all you really need is a good night’s rest.
The better sleep you have, the harder you can push yourself
If you are not able to recover well during sleep, your workout the following day might seem tougher than it should be, or as mentioned earlier, you would have a tendency to overreach, which would then increase your odds for injury.
If your muscles are fatigued, they won’t be able to properly protect connective tissues, which increases the risk of damage to ligaments, tendons, cartilage and bones. Your muscles also won’t be able to adequately provide support for bones, ligaments and tendons, which ups the risk of injuries such as stress fractures, sprains and strains.
Let your muscles recover so you can train harder. Keep in mind that the better you sleep, the more your body will be able to heal itself by restoring damaged tissues, repairing muscles and maintaining hormone levels. For best results, drink a whey protein shake or an amino acid right before you tuck yourself in to give your body what it needs to rebuild damaged muscle immediately.