Sleep and Training – Two Aspects One Aim
Every hard workout gets you closer to your training goals, but did you know that sleep is just as important? However surprising this might sound, it is completely true, and a very important fact to remember when training. Learn more here about how sleep effects your body and your performance – and how to improve both your training and your health by developing the right sleep strategy for you.
Regeneration is Key
As an endurance athlete, you’re probably already aware that sometimes giving it 100% in training just doesn’t cut it when it comes to reaching your target. There are other factors to consider, such as the right diet and giving your body and muscles enough time to recover and rebuild when you are really exhausted.
There are various ways – both active and passive – to improve the regeneration of muscles. Some active options are, for example, when cooling down after your workout you can do a couple of stretches, or go for a relaxed run, or apply different relaxation techniques. Then there are passive options whereby you simply let something happen to you – for example, go to a sauna, have a massage, or just get some sleep. This is far more important than you may think.
If you regularly get too little sleep or poor quality sleep, this will have a negative effect on both your body and your mind. Your immune system will become weaker, your mental performance will not be up to scratch, and you will be more susceptible to mood swings. When it comes to training, a lack of sleep will have a negative impact on your motivation and prevent you from concentrating fully during demanding exercises, and in turn, you’ll run a higher risk of injury.
One might reasonably assume that a lack of sleep has a direct negative effect on strength training, but there is as yet no clear, scientifically-proven evidence for this. An important thing to remember here is that sleeping patterns and needs differ from person to person. Nevertheless, there are some basic things that apply to everyone: for example, adults are advised to get between seven and nine hours of sleep per night.
A Creature of Habit
We all know how hard it can be to get enough sleep, and restful sleep at that. While the duration of sleep is an important criterion, it is not the only one. Another factor to consider is your inner clock, which determines the best time for you to train most effectively. This inner clock is synced with your circadian rhythm, which initially sounds complicated but all it does is determine your 24-hour daily rhythm.
As far as your sleeping habits are concerned, it’s best to keep this rhythm as even as possible and to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every night. Our bodies respond positively to structure and regularity. If, for example, on one day you only get four hours of sleep that night, and on the next you get a total of 12 hours sleep, although it may workout mathematically, it is in fact very different in reality – anyone who has tried this before will know. Irregular sleep has a negative effect on the control of physical functions such as blood pressure and pulse, which in turn worsen the regeneration process during sleep. If your sleep cycle is more regular, your body will naturally prepare for sleep at a certain time.
In addition to getting the right amount of sleep, it is also important to fall asleep quickly and to stay asleep the whole night, rather than waking up constantly. For this, here are a few useful tips: if training in the evening, arrange your workout so that you have enough time for a proper cool down (stretching, meditation, sauna, etc.) before bed. It’s also wise to avoid using boosters or caffeine for an evening training session, otherwise you may have difficulty sleeping after the session.
Another thing worth bearing in mind is to avoid looking at artificial blue light for at least an hour before going to bed – this includes smartphone screens. Instead, perhaps read a book (ideally, not a thriller, but rather something relaxing to help switch off) or browse a magazine – the digital world will be there whenever you log back on!
Your bedroom should be completely dark for optimum sleeping conditions; even the charging light from your phone is considered too much light. Ideally, you should ban all electronic devices from your bedroom, as they are not necessarily required there.
Last but not least: some dietary advice. As a bodybuilder, you need to pay attention to your diet. You are also aware of how fitness food can help you achieve your training goals. In terms of sleep, it is not only the “what” of your diet that plays an important role but also the “when”.
Although there is little scientific data proving how your sleep quality can be improved by means of your diet, there are a few things that are definitely worth trying out. For example, by eating white flour products like bread or pasta a few hours before bed, you may improve your quality of sleep. On the other hand, high-fat foods may have a negative impact on the duration of your sleep – when eating these types of food, it’s best to avoid doing so shortly before bed. However, each situation varies from person to person. Take caffeine for example: with a high caffeine intake before bed, some people struggle to get to sleep – but this is not always the case and again, it depends on the individual.
Try out some of our suggestions and see what works for you. After all, the better your sleep, the readier your body will be for some hard bodybuilding training. #getdymatized