The “S” Factor: Sleep
The time taken to reach physical exhaustion by athletes who obtain anything less than eight hours of sleep, and especially less than six hours, drops by 10-30 percent.
Not only that, getting a good night’s rest can reduce your risk of injury. Sleep is incredibly important to the healing processes in your body. In fact, certain stages of sleep are the only opportunity for your body to repair damage, including muscles and soft tissues.
One of these stages, Stage 3 or Non-REM sleep, is deep sleep, and it is where the body begins to repair itself. In addition to muscle repair, the benefits of this stage of sleep are numerous, including:
- Boosted immune system
- Balanced metabolism
- Detoxification of the brain
Complete a really tough workout (or any workout)? Then you need to follow up with sleep!
“I’m tired but I can’t fall asleep!”
If this is you, try one or more of the following:
- Aim to keep a regular sleep schedule – go to bed and wake up at almost the same time every night
- Keep the room cool
- Remove all electronic devices (all electronic devices emit a blue light that tells our brain to stay awake)
- Aim to put away electronic devices 2 hours before bedtime
- Blackout Curtains – the less light the better
- Stay away from caffeine, especially afternoon
What about napping?
Napping should NOT be a part of your nightly 8 hours of sleep, only an addition. Napping for long periods of time or in the evening (close to bedtime) can make it difficult to fall asleep at night and throw off your regular sleep schedule. Naps can increase memory, energy, and mood, but only if done right. If you need a nap, aim for a “power nap” of 15-30 minutes. Anything longer can put you in deep sleep and leave you feeling groggy and tired when you wake up.
American Sleep Association. (n.d.) How long should I nap?
Walker, M. (2017). Why we sleep: Unlocking the power of sleep and dreams. Scribner.