Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Magic of Sleep

One of the most powerful ways of getting stronger, healing our nagging injuries and keeping our weight under control, is to get the proper amount of sleep.  Athletes need to average 8 hours of sleep.  Most of us get 5 to 6 hours.  That is not a winning equation, it makes everything we do harder and we don't get the full benefit of that magical time.

Yes, just sleeping 8 hours every night could be the magic pill, to take us to the next level.  It could be our best workout.  The reason that we feel so much better after a rest day is that we have 2 nights sleep, the night before and the night after the rest day, without any additional damage to repair.  That's also why doctors sometimes put a person into a medically induced coma, when they are critically injured because the sleep is needed for healing.

 Sleep is when our bodies repair the damage that exercise causes in our muscles. With out this regular healing we get steadily more sore.  We get to the point where we are stiff and sore all the time so we usually cut back on our exercise. When what was really needed was an extra couple of hours of sleep a night.  When you cut back on your training you do start getting over the soreness but you also start losing some of your hard earned strength and speed.

Another problem is eating late at night. Your craving is the strongest late because your body is telling you it wants something. It does want something, sleep and you give it food.  Bad for a lot of reasons. One is we don't need those extra calories, we need sleep and two, the blood that should be channeled into your muscles for healing is instead transferred to the digestion system to process that food.  Guess where that processed food goes?  How about into the fat cells that you worked so hard to empty the day before.

So how do you add extra sleep into your schedule? Start by going to bed 30 min earlier. I bet you wait till a TV program is over and then go to bed, right? Forget that program and use the time for sleep instead. After that becomes a habit, go for making it a full hour earlier.  The other option is to sleep a little later.  I prefer to get up early, that is my time for writing and waking up before I start my day. I choose to cut my night shorter and keep the early rising. But if you feel you have to watch that TV show or need that time to unwind, then can you get up a little later?

Think about it and see if you can find a way to get some more sleep. It's worth the effort because it's during the sleep that the magic happens and you actually become stronger from your workouts.

Thanks for reading.


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