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Sleep: An Important Recovery Tool

January 16, 2018

 

I love sleep. If we are being honest, I would say it’s one of my favorite hobbies.

 

There are a lot of factors that contribute to a successful lifting session, and sleep is a huge one. Sleep deprivation can have a huge negative impact on your training.

 

Sleep deprivation can cause the following to happen:

 

-Muscle glycogen re-sythensis decreases

Glycogen, our body’s main energy source, and its replenishment rate decreases following its depletion after exercise

 

-Protein synthesis ability, the building and repair of our muscle cells, decreases

 

-An increased susceptibility to illness and infection

 

-Altered memory and motor learning function

 

When sleep deprivation is combined with athletics, or serious physical activity, the effects may come with greater consequences. Nédélec et al. (2017) found that decreased sleep leads to increased sleep onset latency**, ultimately leading to increased injury risk. Additionally, Milewski et al. (2014) found that athletes sleep less than 8 hours per night have 1.7 times greater risk of being injured than those who sleep more than 8 hours.

 

Suggestions for better sleep:

Take naps

Naps can reduce mental fatigue and stress.  They may also help reverse hormonal impact of poor nights sleep. Now, you’re saying that you don’t have time or a nap may mess up your nightly sleep. But if you limit your nap to 15-30 minutes, it won’t throw off your body’s sleep pattern.

 

Other assistance

-Set a regular bedtime and wake up time, the body will eventually adapt to the consistency

-Try to exercise earlier in the day rather than the evening to reduce sleep onset latency

-Avoid fatty meals so your GI tract doesn't have trouble digesting or cause discomfort

-Cut down on caffeine intake during the day, specifically after 3pm

-Avoid drinking a lot of fluid before bed to avoid mid-night bathroom breaks

 

While most would simply suggest the 4Rs of recovery (refuel, rehydrate, repair, and relax), there is a bit more to it than that.  Sleep to recover and sleep to perform.

 

 

**Sleep onset latency is the length of time that it takes to accomplish the transition from full wakefulness to sleep

 

 

Milewski, M., Skaggs, D., Bishop, G., Pace, J., Ibrahim, D., Wren, T., & Barzdukas, A. (2014). Chronic lack of sleep is associated with increased sports injuries in adolescent athletes. Journal of Pediatric Orthopedics, 34(2).

 

Nédélec, M., Leduc, C., Dawson, B., Guilhem, G., & Dupont, G. (2017). Case study: sleep and injury in elite soccer. A mixed method approach. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

 

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