9 Things Every Athlete Needs To Know About Sleep And Recovery

  • Posted By: shpnth_admin
  • January 07, 2018

Sleep has a profound effect on all aspects of life, especially physical and mental function. Unfortunately, it is too often the case that individuals trade their sleeping time for additional waking hours so they may experience more things. It seems as if the there is so little time left to do and see what the world has to offer. With coffee shops and eateries open for twenty-four hours, it lures people to stay up all night and just go to sleep when the body cannot stay awake anymore. Sleeping is something that is taken lightly and set aside for more activities. There is a balance to be achieved, however. One must always remember that physical, mental, and emotional performance is strengthened most effectively through a good night’s rest.

1. Sleep gives you more than just rest for your brain

Sleep gives you more than just rest; it recharges your “battery,” a.k.a. nervous system and replenishes your energy stores. Naturally the deeper and better you sleep, the better you reload. That’s important because if you don’t let your central nervous system (CNS) recuperate, your fitness suffers since your CNS is responsible for triggering muscle contractions.

2. The better you sleep tonight, the harder you can go in workouts tomorrow

Without proper rest and restoration, you start degrading muscle growth and recovery, and your central nervous system stops recharging, so you feel tired, unmotivated, and weak in your workouts, causing a negative feedback loop that can start a vicious cycle. It doesn’t have to do as much, in comparison to when you’re awake, so it can use most of its energy to restore your damaged tissues. But if you’re getting low-quality sleep, or not enough sleep, that’s going to impact your body’s ability to heal itself.

3. Athletes don’t necessarily need 8 hours of sleep

The quality of your sleep matters most. You can sleep for eight hours; but if the quality isn’t that good, you won’t recover as well as if you had six hours of high-quality sleep. You also need an optimal environment for sleep and to maintain good sleep hygiene, as well as good nutrition (don’t eat fatty, spicy, or ultra-processed food right before bed) and use supplements (like melatonin and tart cherry juice). Go to slide 8 and 9 for all the details.

4. Low-intensity exercise is important

Muscular overtraining happens when you don’t give broken down tissue enough time to repair. But you can also overload your body by only doing high-intensity work, working out too often, and not giving yourself enough rest. These are the main drivers for central nervous system overtraining.

5. It pays to keep track

Some wearable, like the Garmin Forerunner 735xt GPS multi-sport watch, monitor and use your heart rate to figure out how stressed or recovered you are; both will influence how much time elapses between your heart beats. “Believe it or not, when you’re doing a track session, you have a very rhythmic heart beat because you’re doing something consistently. The Garmin Forerunner measures your heart rate one of two ways, through your wrist and/or with an additional heart rate monitor you can strap on during runs (even swims). After a taxing workout, it will tell you approximately how long it’ll take your body to fully recover.

6. Pay attention to signs of fatigue

Each workout you do has a different influence on fatigue markers. But as long as you’re keeping track of your workouts, you’ll be able to note the trends in your body’s recovery time. If you’re working on power in the form of plyometrics, like box jumps or broad jumps, get the work in early in the session because you’ll be too fatigued by the end. This way the recovery can actually occur within the training day itself.

7. Don’t be afraid of getting fatigued

Being uncomfortable (not in excruciating pain) is how you get stronger, faster, better. There are going to be days where you don’t feel great, and workouts that crush you. And that’s okay. Athletes training for the Olympics are constantly pulled toward their goal by getting uncomfortable.

8. Sleep rituals are important

Most Americans are overworked. You’re probably working on your laptop, checking emails on your phone, or catching up on news or social media late at night. Problem is, the blue light emitted from these devices is going to trick your brain into thinking it’s still daytime. Lie down, meditate, do some positive self talk, read a book, or talk to another human being (crazy stuff, we know); all of these things are incredibly relaxing.

9. What and when you eat affects your strength

After a training session, you need a fast-acting carb and protein mixture. You’ve damaged your muscles and depleted your energy stores, so you need to get your body what it needs to re-synthesize and rebuild. As for meals before bed, you have to be careful. If you eat a huge meal then just go right to bed, you’re giving your body the nutrients and calories it need.

As an athlete, it is a must to strictly follow a training schedule provided by the experts within the team. They understand that sleep has an important role to ensure that every athlete will be able to be at their best form at an event or meet. That is why it seems a killjoy when they tell that athletes cannot stay up late before the day but athletes know better. To stay on top, keeping the body healthy is not just about nutrition and training but also getting the right amount of sleep every night.