Exercise is one of the best things that we can do for our bodies. While it has plenty of benefits, such as getting the heart pumping and oxygen flowing, there is always a post-recovery that when it hits, generally hits pretty hard. That is why sleep is so important. Did you know that sleep is actually in the top 3 of most athletes priority to-do list? When it is not, it could be due to the common error of mistaking "rest" for sleep. Real sleep, coupled with physical conditioning and a nutritious eating plan, helps athlete's function better than when they don’t.
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After we have exercised, our energy is depleted, our fluids are low and our muscle have broken down. Because of this, it is crucial we build our bodies back up. Hydration and eating the right foods help us to regain strength, but sleep really consolidates it all together. Routine is important as our bodies operate on memory. A lack of rest increases the possibility of lethargy, low energy levels, and poor focus, none of which a serious athlete can afford to endure. The more sleep we get, the easier the recovery will be on our bodies.
For an adult, the right amount of sleep is between 7-8 hours a night. For an athletic adult, it should be at least that! REM (otherwise known as Rapid Eye Movement) sleep is crucial, because it is during this phase that the body and brain are provided with a sufficient amount of energy. Some research suggests that when there is a decrease in sleep, there is a decrease in the production of glycogen and carbohydrates, both which are reserved for the body to use during physical activity. This is why after a rough night, your brain may feel fuzzy, your movement slow, and your motivation very, very low. Sleep deprivation is also said to be a big culprit in the increase of the stress hormone known as cortisol. On top of a lack of sleep, a stressful mind hinders endurance and even recovery.
Whether it be napping more often, going to bed earlier, or finding the most comfortable mattress, the right amount of quality sleep is the key. Just like most things in life: what you put in, is what you will get out.