Catch More Zzzzs and Dodge Injury

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"You"ve heard the advice plenty of times, "get your beauty sleep" "make sure to recover". After a long run or hard workout, we all know that recovery is important. However, are we truly optimizing our recovery? What does getting good sleep really look like, and what role does it actually play in recovery?
Many factors play a role in tissue (muscle, bone tendon, cardiovascular, etc.) recovery. Top of the list are re-fueling, re-hydrating, rest, and sleep, amongst others. Let"s take a look at one of the main pillars of recovery: sleep. We will explore what good sleep entails, and how failure to get adequate sleep impacts our health and performance. Then, we will walk through some steps you can take to build healthier sleep habits.
Role of Sleep
When we perform moderate to hard intensity exercise, a proinflammatory or "breakdown" state is initiated in the body. This is a normal part of the performance dip or breakdown in response to a hard stimulus. However, the ultimate goal with training is to recover from the new stress and drive "supercompensation" aka adaptation or improvement. However, if your recovery is not sufficient, we can spend too much time in this debt phase of the training/recovery cycle, putting us at elevated risk of plateau, burnout, or worse, injury.
How Does Sleep Play Into This?
"Reduced sleep, less than roughly 8 hours, puts you at 1.7 times higher risk of injury when you are training"
Lack of sleep results in spending more time in that "proinflammatory state", reducing your immune resistance to infection, disease, and sabotaging both your training capacity and training potential! If you are already injured, limited sleep has also been shown to increase your risk of re-injury during the recovery process.
Lack of sleep has also been shown to zap your mood. Not surprisingly, one research study found that sleep deprivation resulted in significantly higher rates of self-reported negative moods.
The average adult should be getting 7-9 hours of sleep a night, and the average teenager should be getting 8-10 hours. Where do you fall on this sleep continuum? Unfortunately, research into self-reported time spent sleeping indicates the majority of adults sleep less than the recommended levels, averaging closer to 6-7 hours a night. This becomes problematic, as athletes should be getting even more sleep than the average adult, at around 9-10 hours/night.
There are two main phases of sleep: rapid eye movement (REM) and non rapid eye movement (N-REM) sleep. These two categories can be further broken down into substages. 20-25% of your sleep cycle should be spent in the REM phase that typically occurs in a cyclic fashion after about 30-40 minutes of sleeping. The remaining 75% of sleep is usually in the N-REM phase. It has been proposed that REM sleep is when memory consolidation occurs and new motor skills are acquired and processed by the brain."

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