When we sleep we recover from the day’s physical stresses, work, training etc. The body repairs damaged tissue and builds stronger muscle. Human Growth Hormone is a natural hormone released into the bloodstream, and it is responsible for the recovery and rebuilding process, helping to convert fat into fuel and also keeping bones strong. It is produced during deeper sleep phases.
Sufficient, good quality sleep also has the below additional positive effects on our body:
- it helps us to maintain a healthy immune system.
- it helps support our memory capacity
- Sleep can improve levels of concentration, an important factor when training
Experts in the field of sleep recommend 7 to 9 hours of sleep. The more intensely we train, the more sleep we need. The body requires more recovery time when we make greater demands on it.
How too little sleep can affect you
One sleepless night may not affect your training or weight loss goals, but insufficient sleep over a prolonged period can affect your physical and your mental performance.
- Your body will not be producing sufficient HGH to aid recovery and rebuilding of tissue and muscle.
- Mentally, your mood and concentration may be affected to the extent that you will find it harder to tap inner resources like determination and perseverance.
- If we sleep too little there can be an increase of the hormone cortisol in the system. Cortisol regulates the level of glucose in the bloodstream and too much of it can lead to a blood sugar imbalance.
How to get more good quality sleep
- Over a period of a few weeks experiment with your sleep by going to bed e.g. 15 or 30 minutes earlier. See what effect that might have on your well-being & training.
- Keep your sleep pattern as regular as possible, even at the weekend.
- Watch your caffeine levels and stop drinking caffeinated drinks earlier in the day. Caffeine (and alcohol) also increase the level of cortisol in the body.
- Leave your technology devices aside earlier in the evening to allow your brain to settle down before sleep. You will probably fall asleep sooner and have a better chance of a good night’s sleep.
- Make sure your room is as dark as possible and adjust the temperature, you won’t sleep well if you’re too hot.