Recovery does not just refer to a post-workout meal, wearing compression clothing, or foam rolling. The amount of sleep you get can have a larger impact than any of the above. Let’s look at some of the hinderances caused from a lack to sleep:
Sleep is necessary for the body to heal and recover after a physically demanding training session. Sleep allows the body to spend fewer energy resources on body processes needed while awake, and more energy resources towards helping muscles and other tissues heal and recover.
During sleep, growth hormone is released from the pituitary gland at the base of the brain. Growth hormone stimulates muscle growth and repair, bone building, and fat burning, and is thus one of the key hormones which help athletes recover from tough workouts and improve physiologically. Studies show that when an athlete loses sleep, growth-hormone release diminishes. This may be a key reason why extended sleep loss can harm performance.
Athletes that get at least 10 hours of sleep during the weeks surrounding training and competition have been shown to perform better, states Cheri Mah of the Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic and Research Laboratory. If 10 hours is not an option, aim for at least seven to eight hours of sleep each night; teen and young adult athletes should aim for nine or more hours. Use naps to help minimize tiredness, but keep naps short, as in 20 – 60 minutes. Remember, if you’re chronically sleep deprived all of your hard work may be for nothing.