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Sleep. Some of us love it, some don’t get enough of it. Either way sleep is one of the most vital things to the human body and we would die without it. Here’s a number of reasons why you should be hitting the hay a couple of hours earlier.

The benefits of sleep

According to Watson (2012), sleep is one of the 5 pillars needed to support and maintain life. He states that “in stages 3 and 4 of sleep you enter a phase where your body begins to release hormones that repairs and builds tissue and muscle that would have been damaged during training.” He then goes on to mention that during the REM phase of our sleep cycle (stage 5) the human brain increases its pain threshold and motor skills. dogs_sleeping_5(This could mean being able to do another set or squeeze out that last rep!) As sleep is so important in the re-building of muscles, if we lack in it then our body may fail to recover fully from our workout or build the muscle we’ve been aspiring too, if you’re currently on a plateau then sleep may be one of the things holding you back!

Here’s some key facts on sleep loss:

  1. Your 1RM bench press drops almost 10kg
  2. Perceived exertion increases
  3. 30-40% reduction in glucose metabolism
  4. A 20-30 minute nap can improve alertness by 100% (think what losing out on sleep does!)

When looking at whether sleep helps in improving physical capabilities, Elliott (2014) found
that sleep loss results in a lower amount of testosterone that our bodies produce. Testosterone is one of the sex steroids everyone has in their bodies, both male and female. Therefore, it is particularly important to get enough sleep because testosterone reacts with nuclear receptors in our DNA which aids in protein synthesis as well as increasing the amount growth hormone. This means that the exercise we do is more likely to build more muscle. It has also been found that not enough shut-eye leads to a reduction in the amount of fat that can be burned or in other terms reduces the bodies fat burning efficiency. Furthermore, she stated that a good nights sleep means that skills learned previously in the day are consolidated and added into our long term memory during REM and deep sleep. In the deep sleep phase we rehearse the skills learned and in the REM stage we add and integrate these skills into our current knowledge. 

Rest has an incredible impact on our bodies metabolism, not enough and it is slowed massively. sleep anyway you canA good nights sleep of around 8 or more hours leaves us energetic and feeling refreshed for the next day, any less than this then our body will struggle to reduce cortisol stress levels. Our bodies are naturally trained to sleep when the sun sets and rises, this is the perfect time to sleep and wake up however we know this isn’t always realistic so at least 8 hours would be the recommended amount in order to heal and prepare our bodies for the coming day.

Whether your chasing muscle growth to look ripped or want to drop a dress size or two, sleep may be one of the crucial elements stopping you from achieving your goals.

 

References

Watson (2012)

Fatigue Science(2013)

Elliot (2014) 

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Nat comes from a background of cycling and fitness. After eating a regular diet for most of his life, he came accross the vegan lifestyle 3 years ago and has never looked back. Nat considers himself an animal activist, environmentalist and keen cyclist, while promoting the vegan lifestyle along the way. He's now a registered personal trainer, gym instructor and currently working his way towards a Sport, Fitness and Coaching degree.

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