When it comes to our personal fitness training, good quality sleep is often overlooked. This is the case even with those who try to live the healthiest lifestyles. While the human brain may be able to function on just 5 hours of rest or less per day, there are many reasons to ensure sufficient good quality sleep each night.
With that in mind, here are a few benefits of getting enough sleep, and how it affects your overall fitness training.
The benefits of getting enough sleep
Restoration and Repair
We spend, on average, roughly 36% of our lives asleep. We know this is for restoration and repair, with our sleep switching on hundreds of genes involved in the restoration of the body and repair of metabolic pathways. Not getting enough can actually alter activity in genes that control metabolism, inflammation, immunity and stress.
Although the brain releases several hormones during sleep, the growth hormone is probably the most vital to those who exercise. This is due to its importance in building muscle. The growth hormone is responsible for stimulating cell growth, reproduction and regeneration, and is also linked with increased metabolism.
Glucose and glycogen are two of our main sources of energy. These are particularly important as a fuel source for endurance events beyond 90 minutes. Sleep deprivation may decrease glycogen synthesis and slow the storage of glycogen.
Reduce appetite and hunger
Missing out on sleep increases appetite and hunger by elevating the body’s concentrations of the appetite-stimulating hormone and decreasing the levels of the satiety hormone leptin. This makes weight management much harder than it could be if you are getting sufficient sleep.
How much sleep do we actually need in order to improve personal fitness training?
Sleep experts believe that while it may vary between individuals, 7.5 to 8 hours a night is ideal. As one put it, how much sleep would you get if you could sleep as much as you wanted, without work, children or other responsibilities getting in the way? Think back to your last holiday. How many hours did you sleep without interruptions waking you?
Top Tips to improve your sleep
- Make time for sleep – even if you have a busy schedule.
- Try to get to bed at the same time each night. If you can’t control when you fall asleep, always wake up at the same time.
- Get the best mattress you can afford and turn the bedroom into a haven you feel relaxed in
- Indulge in things that relax rather than stimulate you, such as a hot bath or herbal drink. Give yourself a break from social media and late night emails.
- Remove computers and phones from your bedroom. These emit blue light that suppresses sleep hormone melatonin.
- Obsessing about not sleeping when you can’t get to sleep makes it worse. Think of other, more pleasant things.