Modern fitness magazines and infomercials are always touting a brand new and revolutionary supplement or pill that you can take to improve your strength and muscle mass. Some of these may work well but they often have high costs and potential side-effects involved. What if there was a method out there that could get you feeling better than ever and made you gain both strength and muscle mass? And what if it was totally free? Read on.
One of the most beneficial things we can do to improve our strength and fitness apart from the actual training is maximizing our recovery afterward. There is no better way than getting plenty of high quality sleep. General recommendations state that we should aim to get 5-6 sleep cycles every night. The average sleep cycle is 90 minutes so that means we should be getting between 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep every night. What is it exactly that happens if we miss out on this crucial sleep?
When we are sleep deprived, there is a sharp reduction in testosterone and growth hormone production, inhibiting the ability to improve in strength and power elements of your training program. In regards to general fitness, not getting enough sleep impairs the resting heart rate and aerobic capacity. Sleep deprivation has also been shown to lower sprint and reaction times after just a single night of insufficient sleep. Evidence is mounting to show that missing sleep has a hugely detrimental effect on our ability to progress within our training program.
If sleep is so important, how do we ensure that we get the best quality every night? While much of this is heavily individualized, there are certainly some general recommendations that work very well. If you are aiming for 7.5 hours of sleep, you need about 8 hours in bed. The average time it takes to fall asleep is 14 minutes and many people like to read a few pages of a book before they doze off. While we are on the topic of reading, it is strongly encouraged to read before bed instead of using your phone, tablet, watching TV, or using your computer. The emitted blue light can disturb our body’s production of melatonin, which is the hormone that makes us fall asleep. If there is a lot of light or sound in your room, you can use blackout shades, a sleep mask, ear plugs, or a white noise machine. All of those can be helpful to ensure that sleep is of a high quality and sufficient duration.
Many of our clients struggle getting plenty of sleep at night because they may get work phone calls or their children wake them up. What can we do in these cases? Naps can work really well to restore some of the lost strength and fitness capacity that sleep loss gives us. Naps can last anywhere between 15 to 90 minutes, depending on how much time you have. If you want to get a quick boost before your next afternoon or evening workout, take a nap!
Sleep is a hugely important factor in more aspects than just physical performance. It also impacts our memory, impulsivity, executive function, decision making, immune system, food choices, and hundreds of other factors. Obviously, we want to make sure we get enough sleep every night and match it well with our training program.
Are you struggling with your weight and physical abilities? Meet with one of our experienced, college-educated, and highly qualified personal trainers to create a program to ensure continued success and progress. Contact us today to set up a complimentary consultation and experience what one on one and small group personal training can do!