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Fitness

Why Sleep is Vital for your Diet & Fitness goals?

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SL:PT EditorsBy SL:PT Editors

It’s easy to forget that taking care of your body by resting is just as important as training effectively. You need sleep for muscle growth, sports performance, recovery, and learning. You might already be following strict training and nutrition programs, but without incorporating sleep into your program, you might be hindering your progress. Very few world-class athletes or sports stars are able to reach their physical prime without a good night’s sleep. Below we will show you just why you should be factoring in Sleep when you think about fitness…

Muscle Growth and Strength Training

Both strength training and cardiovascular exercise work your muscles. During our routines, we will strain our muscles and can cause small tears in muscle fibres. These heal during our rest periods. Muscle fibres will then thicken, increase in number and leads to muscle growth. 

Sleep is an essential element in this process as our bodies produce important hormones for muscle growth during a good night’s sleep, such as human growth hormones. If we lack quality sleep, we produce fewer hormones and lower the ability to heal our muscle fibres and gain strength.

Sports performance

Sleep is critical for restoring our energy levels after a strenuous workout. A recent study found that basketball players performed at a higher level the day after a night of good quality sleep. Getting a good night’s sleep means our muscles have had time to heal, but we’ll also benefit from improved reaction times, muscle coordination, and speed. 

The amount of sleep received is important, so is the quality people who experience sleep problems, such as insomnia, won’t get all the benefits of someone with a full good night’s sleep. In fact, trouble sleeping has been linked to poor performance the following day. In a recent study, sleep-deprived athletes were found to have slower sprint times. In another study, athletes who reported poor sleep quality also faced poor athletic performance the next day.

Recovery

Recovery occurs after our muscles – including arm, leg and heart muscles have been used in either strength training or cardiovascular exercise. The sleep cycle comprises rapid eye movement (REM) and nonrapid eye movement (Non-REM) components. Non-REM is broken into three stages, ranging in time and depth of sleep. During this sleep process, human growth hormone is released, the hormone that helps our muscles hypertrophy. Stage 3 Non-REM sleep is the most critical for athletes as it’s the sleep stage when muscles are most relaxed, breathing slows, and blood flow to muscles increases. Of all the stages of sleep, Non-REM Stage 3 is the one that allows your muscles to repair and recover. Sleep problems, including insomnia, can interrupt our sleep pattern and make it difficult for us to get a good night’s sleep.

Learning

In addition to being critical for muscle growth and top sports performance, sleep is also important for memory consolidation. If you’re part of a sports team, that might apply to muscle memory and remembering the patterns and sequences. REM and non-REM sleep is crucial for memory and in moving thoughts from short to long-term memory. 

A good night’s sleep is also important for your ability to learn techniques or strategies related to your sport or exercise. For example, a football player must remember key tactics and sequences and be in peak physical health. Sleep-deprivation will lead to poor decision making, and insufficient sleep could impair your tactical ability.

Take away

In conclusion, sleep and fitness are a two-way street: sleep improves your exercise performance while exercising during the day helps improve your sleep. Now that you know why sleep is important for your fitness goals, consider learning how to increase deep sleep or address any sleep problems you might have. Subscribe to our newsletter for more helpful sleep-related content, advice, tips, and everything sleep! Find out how a good sleep can reset your whole system.