The Importance of Sleep
There are many aspects to health and performance, and sometimes it's hard to stay on top of all of them.
All of these factors work together to create the complete picture of our personal health.
One factor that plays a major role in both general well being and overall performance is sleep.
Sleep is the cornerstone for many functions of our bodies, and is generally considered as the time for us to recover and for the mind to rejuvenate itself.
It is during sleep that muscle growth, protein synthesis and tissue repair all occur. Growth hormone and other restorative hormones are also released. Adequate sleep to aid in recovery is just as, if not more important than increases in training volume for real, lasting progress.
Learning new motor patterns is also affected by sleep. While in R.E.M., your brain is actually storing all of the new information it has come into contact with throughout the day, including all of the hard work you just put into the gym learning and/or practicing movement mechanics. Without the proper sleep time to store this information, your brain is hindered in its ability to fully assimilate the new movement patterns.
Sleep deprivation has the ability to negatively affect your mood and ability to focus. Feeling irritable, foggy? It may simply be that you need more sleep.
You need to be able to properly recover in order to reap the benefits of all of the training and work you put in at the gym.
Some helpful hints to improving the quality of your sleep:
- Try to get to bed at the same time each night. Set a bed time and stick to it, give yourself at least 8 hours in bed, and depending on your activity level you may require more.
- Your bedroom should be as dark as possible and maintain a relatively cool temperature.
- Turn the lights out 30 minutes before bed, and reduce external stimulus as much as possible. In other words, no computer or TV lights flashing in your face as you try to relax.
- Try reading with a small lamp before bed, or taking some time to mobilize which can both help in promoting relaxation.
There are some supplements you can take which may help in promoting a restful state before bed. As a general rule, you should avoid taking anything that has hormones in it that are supposed to be regulated by the body's endocrine system such as melatonin.
Your body should be naturally producing melatonin, and tinkering with the endocrine system without the guidance of a health professional is not recommended.
Try increasing the quality of your sleep for at least one week, and see how your overall performance, mood and quality of life improve.Check out this link from Harvard Medical School for a more in-depth article on sleep and its functions:"Healthy Sleep: Understanding the Third of Our Lives We Often Take for Granted"