Sleep and Recovery are KEY
We've all heard the recommended "you should sleep anywhere from 7-8 hours each day" for optimal health. If we follow that model (which most people come close to), we spend roughly 1/3 of our life sleeping. That seems like a lot, but when you think about all the good that sleep does for your body, you realize that is a necessity. Sleep helps our body recover and recharge. When our body and mind are recharged, they perform at optimal levels. When you're training for a competition or getting ready to play in a big game, your level of sleep the night before is paramount to how your body will feel the next day.
SLEEP IS THE KEY TO THE BEST RESULTS
You can train all your life, but if you don't take care of your body in terms of sleep and recovery time, you're cutting yourself short. Look at some of the biggest names in professional sports, where their body is their money maker. Lebron James (player, Los Angeles Lakers) has said that he spends over $1 million a year on recovery. Some of that money goes to quality sleep, some to different types of recovery like cryotherapy. Regardless, he understands that his body needs the proper recovery to ensure he can perform at the highest levels.
Sleep gives your body the time to properly recover and this is where a majority of your muscle rebuild will take place, which will set you up for success during the next day's workout and lead to better results in the long run.
Quality sleep will also give your heart a chance to recover and rest as well. This article from MedlinePlus shows that by not getting enough sleep, you're at higher risk for heart issues like high blood pressure and heart disease. Take care of your heart and body and focus on quality sleep!
EXERCISE CAN HELP YOU SLEEP BETTER
There are numerous studies that show that exercising can help you fall asleep faster, sleep longer, and stay asleep throughout the night. One study in particular (1) published by Sleep Medicine, tested people who had regularly gotten less than 6.5 hours of sleep. They had those people do a moderate-intensity workout (like walking outside, some treadmill work, or a stationary bike) four times per week for six weeks. Over the course of that study, those getting tested reported getting up to 75 minutes of extra sleep. Not just one night, but EVERY night. Think about what that does to the body with all that extra recovery time. You start to feel more like yourself when you have more sleep, so imagine getting 75 more minutes EVERY SINGLE NIGHT.
TIPS TO GET BETTER SLEEP
If you have issues falling asleep or staying asleep, you can change up your habits around sleep to help fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly. Here are some tips, courtesy of MedlinePlus:
Have a set sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up around the same time each day.
Avoid caffeine in the afternoon or evening, as it can leave your body with additional energy before bed, making it more difficult to fall asleep.
Find something that helps you relax before bed (i.e. reading, taking a bath, or listening to calming music).
Turn the thermostat down in the bedroom, a cooler room is easier to fall asleep in and stay asleep in.
Remove blue-light exposure before bed (i.e. TV, tablet, or phone). Instead, opt for a book or magazine to help relax your mind.
FIND WHAT WORKS BEST FOR YOU
Some sleep experts suggest a morning workout will help you sleep better at night, others say there's nothing wrong with an evening workout. In general, they will say that exercise, in general, will help you sleep better, regardless of when it is. Find what works best for you if sleep is the issue. However, if you're looking to optimize your performance, make sure you're getting your sleep. Make sure that you're not staying up all night watching Netflix and let your body hit the "SLEEP" button for the day.