Sleep may be a more important part of athletic performance than you thought. Of course, your diet and training schedule are big factors when it comes to getting — and staying — fit. But sleep plays a huge role, too.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, REM sleep is particularly crucial for providing energy to the brain and body, and tissue growth and repair happens primarily when we’re asleep. Translation: Sleep is crucial for muscle recovery.
“You give your body the chance to repair, recharge, and regrow during sleep,” says wellness expert Felecia Stoler, DCN, MS, RD, RACSM, told Muscle and Fitness. “It’s the ideal time to replenish nutrients, and, since your body isn’t moving, it allows the muscles to repair themselves.”
Research proves that sleep is crucial when it comes to ideal athletic performance. One 2011 research paper posits that sleep deprivation “[favors] the loss of muscle mass and… [hinders] muscle recovery after damage induced by exercise.” Studies have shown that sleep deprivation affects weightlifting ability, and decreases muscle strength and power. Plus, a study on young athletes linked sleep deprivation to an increased risk of injury.
Researcher Cheri Mah of the Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic and Research Laboratory, who has studied how college athletes’ performance relates to their sleep, stresses how crucial sufficient rest is to athletic excellence.
“Typically, many athletes accumulate a large sleep debt by not obtaining their individual sleep requirement each night, which can have detrimental effects on cognitive function, mood, and reaction time,” Mah said in a press release. “These negative effects can be minimized or eliminated by prioritizing sleep in general and, more specifically, obtaining extra sleep to reduce one’s sleep debt.”
So, if your performance at the gym has plateaued, consider whether sleep deprivation could be the issue. Commit to getting more rest each night, and go from there.
[Editor’s Note: The information provided should not be considered a substitute for professional advice. Please consult a sleep doctor or other medical expert if you have questions related to your own health.]
Featured image: KieferPix/Shutterstock
Joe Auer is the editor of Mattress Clarity. He mainly focuses on mattress reviews and oversees the content across the site.
He likes things simple and take a straightforward, objective approach to his reviews. Joe has personally tested nearly 250 mattresses and always recommends people do their research before buying a new bed. He has been testing mattresses for over 5 years now, so he knows a thing or two when it comes to mattress selection. He has been cited as an authority in the industry by a number of large publications.
Joe has an undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University and an MBA from Columbia University.