Any sports enthusiast should be well aware of the significance that sleep has when it comes to the influence on effective muscle recovery. It’s not all about diet; although eating the right things will also help with recovery, sleep is a firm favourite.
All you have to do is try and function for an extended period with reduced amounts of sleep and you will find that the results are none too favourable!
Apart from the feeling of being fuzzy-headed when you wake up in the mornings due to poor-quality slumber, another drawback you’ll suffer is the ability to maintain strong efforts during your chosen sport or activity.
Chances are that you’ve had more important things to worry about instead of sleep stages up until now, so, let’s find out a little more about this subject to kick things off as this will help you to get your head around its importance.
In simple terms, we all have two main stages of sleep (although there are actually five). These impact on muscle recovery, REM sleep and non-REM sleep. Here’s how they apply to you and your muscle recovery…
This stage referred to as REM, or rapid eye movement sleep occurs in cycles of roughly 90 minutes during the night. This stage makes up around a quarter of your overall sleep. REM sleep is actually what occurs during the latter half of your natural sleep cycle, particularly in the hours before you wake.
It’s your REM sleep that gives your brain the energy required to function effectively while you’re awake, while also helping to restore your mind too.
Next up is your non-REM sleep. This initial phase of sleep is the vital part of your muscle recovery, and also assists in the general restoration of the body.
This phase is essential for muscle recovery and restoring the body. When you’re in this stage of your sleep cycle, your blood pressure lowers, breathing becomes more profound and slower.
Your brain’s enjoying rest, and it’s going through a period of minimal activity; this allows the blood to flow more readily to your muscles, which in turns arrives at your muscles with increased levels of oxygen and essential nutrients that promote growth and healing. This is the time that your muscles and tissues are invigorated and replenished.
It’s also during this stage of sleep that your growth hormone is secreted. This is a fundamental part of the recovery process, so if you are on reduced levels of sleep, you’ll experience a radical deterioration in terms of your growth hormone secretion.
It’s this growth hormone deficiency that is linked to loss of muscle mass and lowered ability to exercise at full capability.
How much sleep do you need?
Hopefully, by now you realise how big a part sleep has to play in muscle recovery and you’re wondering if you get enough sleep.
The recommended levels for adults to sleep each evening should be between 7 and 9 hours. This is, of course, dependant on the individual, so if you sleep for seven hours and aren’t suffering a lowering of quality in life or chosen activity, there’s no need to panic.
How can you help to get good sleep?
If you’re now at the stage where you’re looking for tips on changes in your routine to enjoy more sound slumber, then you can take these tips away with you that are designed to assist in you getting the all-important high-quality sleep of an evening.
- Have you got a bedroom that is a sleep-inducing sanctuary? If the answer is no, then make amends by making sure you have the right mattress for your needs; this can be the difference between tossing and turning in discomfort and slipping off into a solid state of sleep every night.
- Install blackout curtains/blinds. These will help to make the room as dark as possible. Darkness is a natural signal to the brain that it’s time to sleep as there’s nothing to stimulate it.
Before we leave you, here’s some more helpful additional pointers that will help you to get solid, quality sleep on your road to becoming an athlete which you should be noting down.
Address and adjust any of these points if they apply to you at present:
- Regularly drinking alcohol; this should be limited.
- Don’t’ consume heavy meals up to three hours before bedtime.
- Limit your smart device use to two hours before bed.
- No caffeine between six and eight hours prior to sleep.
Eliminate worrying. If you’re fussing over fitting in training, or you’re stressed about getting everything fitted in, just don’t. You’re not alone in feeling this way, but if you’re struggling then try sleep banking if you know you’ve got a big day coming up.