So last week we began taking a closer look at the basics to nutrition & athletic performance. This week we’ll be hitting the sack (separately that is) and taking a closer look at sleep. I know what you’re thinking….I thought we were talking about nutrition. Well, we can’t get more basic than sleep and without that foundation your nutrition can be spot on and it won’t be nearly as effective. So bear with me here!
Exercise as a whole depletes energy, fluids and breaks down muscle. The true magic of muscle growth happens as it’s repairing and rebuilding itself. Guess when that happens? You’re right, while we’re sleeping! “During sleep, growth hormone is produced and protein synthesis occurs. Research also suggests during REM sleep that the body is able to: restore organs, bones, and tissue; replenish immune cells; and circulate human growth hormone.”
Did you know that sleep deprivation dulls activity in the brain’s frontal lobe, which is a hub of decision making & impulse control. This is similar to being drunk. And DO NOT try and tell me you have not made bad decisions while you’ve been drunk, because you’re a liar! Furthermore, chronic sleep deprivation reeks havoc on your hormones. You know the things that pretty much regular EVERYTHING in your body. One particular hormone that is effected by lack of sleep is cortisol. This is our body’s fight or flight mechanism. While elevated levels of cortisol may be great if a lion is chasing you but not for regulating body fat. Cortisol also helps regular blood sugar levels in the body. Regularly elevated levels of cortisol also means regularly elevated levels of blood sugar, which leads to increased risk of obesity and diabetes.
So no matter your goals: increase muscle mass and/or decrease body fat sleeping 8-10 hours a night needs to be your goal. Do so by setting a regular bedtime, turning off electronic devices (I know, your thumbs just can’t stop scrolling through IG but knock it off), and try darkening your room. The often heard line, “I can sleep when I’m dead” is completely true but catching Zs now will hopefully push off that dive into the grave!