Good sleep hygiene is important for many reasons. The brain does its housekeeping while you sleep, your body has a chance to rest and muscle repair is another major reason sleep is so important. Athletes, as well as the average person, need quality sleep in order to maintain healthy muscles.
Just as the name suggests, those who exercise heavily or perform strenuously, such as in a big race, can experience sleeplessness afterwards. Problems occur when you exercise too close to bedtime. Caffeine after exercising or too late in the day can also affect your sleep. There are things you can do to combat this.
Make sure your bedtime is going to be at least three hours after you complete your exercise. Drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated. Try to keep caffeine intake to a minimum. Those caffeinated sports drinks and energy bars add to dehydration and they can keep you up at night.
When you exercise, your core temperature rises, your endocrine and nervous systems are stimulated and melatonin production is decreased. Your heart rate is also increased. All these factors added together make it difficult for you to get to sleep. Even though the race is over, or the exercise session has ended, you body is still on overload.
The Importance of Deep Sleep
Dozing off is not enough to keep you going. Your muscles need you to get into deep sleep in order to recover. Stages three and four of non-REM sleep are important for muscle recovery. For the best recovery, you should sleep eight to ten hours. Shorter than that may not give your body the time it needs for full recovery. If you sleep too long, you can alter your sleep cycle.
During deep sleep, muscle repair takes place as the pituitary gland releases HGH – human growth hormone. This hormone aids in tissue growth and helps regenerate new muscle cells. Your breathing also slows down and becomes deeper as your blood pressure drops. Whatever blood is not used in your brain as it rests goes into the muscles, supplying extra oxygen and nutrients.
Establish a Sleep Ritual
Little kids love listening to bedtime stories and getting tucked in at night. Sleep rituals get us psychologically prepared for a good night’s sleep even when we are adults. Create a sleep ritual that will signal your brain that it is time to rest. This can be taking a warm bath or shower before bed, which is very relaxing. It can also mean reading a book. Keep in mind that the blue light of your computer screen will most likely make it more difficult for you to go to sleep, so turn off the computer well before you go to bed.
Not getting the rest you need for optimum muscle recovery can cause you to be more prone to injuries. At Sovereign Rehab, we support athletes of all abilities in recovery from injuries. If you have strains, sprains or other injuries that require attention, give us a call. We are here to help.
Posted on behalf of Sovereign Rehabilitation
5555 Peachtree Dunwoody Rd, Suite 225
Atlanta, GA 30342
Phone: (404) 835-3340