Rest is one of the most overlooked parts of an exercise regimen, but the reality is it is actually a quite important principle. Sleep is one of your most valuable tools for growth that you can have in your body building arsenal. Muscle adaptation and growth often occurs at night.
During the suspended state of animation you are in, your body is doing exactly what you have been asking it to do during your workouts – build muscle.
Lack of sleep can have an intoxicating effect on your body. According to the Journal of Applied Sports Science, being awake for 24 hours has the same physical effect as a blood alcohol content of 0.096, which is above the legal driving limit in most states. Working out in this state has its obvious downside. For starters, your lack of muscular coordination places you at a much higher risk for injury. Just as you’d never head to the gym after drinking a few beers at your local tavern, you should never work out after not sleeping the night before. You’re better off waiting until the next day when your body has been given proper rest.
What are the best practices when it comes to getting enough sleep? Here are some pointers but results vary by individual:
- Don’t exercise right before bedtime. Body temperature has a huge effect on our ability to fall asleep. As your body temperature lowers, you start to feel sleepy. If you work up a sweat before trying to sleep, you will have difficulty falling asleep and it could take your body several hours to cool down enough so that you can drift off.
- Try having a light snack before bedtime. Some people disagree with this theory, but if you go to bed on an empty stomach, it can distract from your ability to fall asleep. Make sure this snack is light, though.
- Get at least eight hours of quality sleep per night. This will insure that you get the rest and recovery that your body needs to be able to function effectively during the day.
- Keep your bedroom dark and cool. Try having some white noise in the room like a fan running.
- Don’t drink a lot of fluids before sleep, especially tea or coffee. Not only will the caffeine keep you awake, but you’ll have to use the bathroom more often as well which will disturb your sleep.
- Establish both a regular sleep cycle as well as a pre-sleep routine. This will help you signal your body that it’s time to think about resting.
While your body is sleeping, your body’s synthesis of protein increases. This is what makes you grow. Your body can recover and repair any damage you did during the day while you are at rest. A majority of growth hormones are also released when the body is in the sleep state. Growth hormones are very important in increasing muscle mass. During a workout, growth hormones are also released, but the majority of this happens while the body is at rest.
Just as sleep will give you more energy, it is also vital in helping your body recover and ultimately grow like you want it to.
Tonight, try to get more sleep.
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