Sleep For Fitness
The flowers are blooming and the weather is warming up that means people are thinking about their summer vacations and looking good in their shorts and swimwear. Often people drop off on exercising during the winter, eat heavier foods and gain a few pounds. Now in an effort to quickly get rid of it there is a mad rush to the gym.
If you do it right you can shape up in time for Memorial Day weekend. But often those too eager and impatient don’t get the changes they were hoping for and lose motivation. Sometimes the problem can be as simple as sleeping. Weird huh? Read on.
When you train, especially when you train hard, you stress your body and break down muscle tissue. It’s really a good thing because it forces your body to adapt by growing stronger and this burns calories. But your muscles need an opportunity to build back up. That happens when you rest.
The recovery begins as soon as the cool down and continues into the next few days.
Instead of rushing out the door at the end of exercising I encourage my participants to take a few minutes to bask in the after glow of the workout.
Researchers have found low intensity activity after an intense workout allows the blood to continue circulating and flush out the accumulated lactic acid from the muscle. This can contribute to muscle recovery and has shown to improve relaxation. This is also a good time to stretch (see my previous blog about the importance of stretching).
Let’s also note:
- that in the hours after working out it’s important to replenish your energy first by rehydrating with water and replacing the lost fluids.
- Secondly, it’s a good idea to eat carbohydrates and a little protein within an hour.
- Carbohydrates will restore glycogen used for energy and protein will provide amino acids to help muscles repair.
- A protein shake or smoothie is a good quick and easily digestible choice.
Finally, the biggest point I wanted to make in this blog is the importance of getting enough rest at night. I myself have been wrestling with this. A new morning routine forced me to rise earlier to get the kids off to school. But I continued to go to bed late trying to spend quality time with my husband. I was only getting five or six hours of sleep, sometimes less. As an instructor I work out hard most days. I began to wonder why I was fatigued and not recovering as quickly from muscle soreness and was constantly snacking especially on bread and carbohydrates. I finally had to remind myself of the benefit of sleep.
Sleep is the time for your body to recharge and repair.
It allows the muscles to heal, memory consolidation and release of hormones regulating growth and appetite. It affects how we look, feel and operate. If you’re sick sleep is very important.
Lack of sleep increases a stress hormone called cortisol.
Who needs more stress?
It certainly inhibits your body’s ability to grow stronger and decreases your motivation to continue exercising. Plus the increased strain on your body can make you more susceptible to injury and illness.
The really bad news, lack of sleep makes you want to eat. When you’re stressed and hungry you’re more likely to make poor food choices and overeat. That leads to weight gain. Weight gain can lead to obesity, high blood pressure diabetes and all the things we try to avoid with exercise.
If you plan to sweat it out at the gym remember to dream about how good you’ll look on the beach this summer with a good seven to nine hours of sleep at night.
What Happens When You Sleep: https://sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/what-happens-when-you-sleep
Elements of Rest & Recovery: http://breakingmuscle.com/mobility-recovery/7-essential-elements-of-rest-and-recovery
Importance of Stretching: https://easydrugcard.com/exercise/stretch-5-easy-ways-stretch-exercise/