Sleep. We all need it but rarely do we get enough. The Mayo Clinic found that most Americans get less than seven hours of sleep per night. This may be acceptable for the average Joe who goes back and forth from his desk job day in and day out, but for someone trying to be a performance athlete in any form needs more! And I know what you’re thinking; just because I lift weights a couple days a week doesn’t make me an athlete. Well you’re wrong. It does. Enhancing your body to perform better by building muscle makes you an athlete. Instead of lifting weights to further your performance in a college football game, you are doing it to be able to chase your grandkids around or go on that weekend hike to the mountains. Regardless of what form of training you do and the purpose one aspect rains true, sleep will make you better.
The amount we all need differs. Factors ranging from age, sex, and weight to job requirements, weight training and NEAT (Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) play a huge roll in determining the proper amount. Dresdin Archibald, coach from Breaking Muscle, states “ Young people will usually require seven to eight hours of sleep per night for optimum performance. That is, optimum for average daily living. When that young person decides to become involved in serious athletic training, then the need for extra sleep will soon rise. It has to. The more physical activity you do, the more the muscles and nervous system will break down in the natural course of experiencing stress on the body. That rebuilding is done during sleep for most part. So naturally, the more you do, the more time it’s going to take to rebuild those systems, and the more sleep you need.”
Another factor is quality of sleep. You may be in bed for eight hours but are you getting quality sleep? Training too late in the evening can really hinder your sleep quality. Think of yourself going for a new back squat PR around 8pm and then heading home and trying to go to sleep 2 hours later. Your body may feel worn out but your mind is still amped up from the intense adrenaline and focus you had during your training. I would try to not train within three or four hours before bed. This way your body and mind have time to settle down and relax. The events leading up to lights out play a large role as well.
Trying to calm the mind before bed is huge. I’m guilty of staying up as long as I can to finish that last episode of House Of Cards, but trying to go to sleep right after is extremely hard. It’s because you are visually stimulating your brain. Try deeming the lights and reading a book an hour before bed. It will help your eyes, brain, and body relax and welcome the cold side of the pillow. You will get into rhyme sleep a lot faster, thus recovering better and becoming ready for the next days training.
Trainer at Forge-RX