Updated: Dec 3, 2020
You’ve most likely heard of certain celebrities’ unbelievable daily routines. They wake up early, eat breakfast, work out multiple times, and end the day with their family. How can they keep this up?
As trainers, one of the regular questions we ask our clients is, “How much sleep are you getting on average each night?”
But why is that important?
Did you know that sleep is the most natural and cheapest performance enhancer?
Sleep positively affects muscle growth and strength. By sleeping at least eight hours a night, our bodies can recover and repair muscles fatigued from a day’s workouts.
As the body rests, growth hormone increases, building lean muscle. For a student-athlete, especially, growth hormone is essential to muscle recovery.
Just as muscle mass increases with more sleep, the opposite happens with less sleep.
Fat storage capacity in the body increases when we don't get at least seven hours of sleep at night. Since sleep affects performance, this can cause a less efficient workout. Less energy gained from sleep equals less energy to expend on workouts and everyday activities.
Sleep deprivation also alters thermogenesis, a metabolic process that burns calories to produce heat. This can decrease the number of calories we burn during exercise. It also triggers ghrelin, a hormone secreted in our gut that increases feelings of hunger.
After just one night of bad sleep, we are more likely to overeat and decrease our energy expenditure, which can start a chain reaction of bad habits.
If sleep is a great performance enhancer, how can we maximize the benefits?
We know sleep is vital. But how can we ensure a good night's rest? Try these quick tips for setting yourself up for success:
Create a consistent nighttime routine that lets you wind down. Take warm, dark showers before bed or sit and read for 20 minutes.
Increase melatonin (a hormone that regulates a sleep-wake cycle) as you get ready for bed by turning the lights down or taking 3-10mg of a supplement before bed.
Put away all electronics at least 30 minutes before you go to bed.
If you must use your phone or computer, use blue light blockers.
Make your room as dark as possible when you finally get into bed or wear a covering over your eyes.
Set your thermostat between 65 to 70 degrees at nighttime to maximize sleep efficiency. Scientists say our bedrooms should mimic a cave at night: cool, quiet, and dark.
You can look forward to positive effects when implementing these strategies. They are sure to maximize the benefits of sleep and make your training and everyday activities more effective and enjoyable!
How Much Does Sleep Affect Your Workouts? — Lauren Bedosky, Men's Health
How Much Sleep Does An Athlete Need? — Colin MacLeod, Dr. Colin MacLeod
Everything You Need to Know about Thermogenesis — Trevor Hiltbrand, Transparent Labs
Sleep & Athletic Performance — Sleep Foundation