Dr. Jessica Robinson, PT, DPT
“The goal of any recovery strategy is to reduce the amount of time it takes for the body to return to baseline or to get better” (NASM). It should be viewed as a planned strategy to optimize the time between training sessions in order to come back stronger or at a higher level than when you began. While there are many recovery strategies, we will highlight an important but often sacrificed one here…sleep.
We all know that sleep is beneficial, but just what exactly does it do for us, and why is it so important? Sleep plays a critical role in memory, immune function, metabolism, learning, productivity, and overall mood. Poor or insufficient sleep is actually a risk factor for injury and delayed recovery. Not only is the amount of sleep important but also the quality and consistency in which you get it.
As you fall into deeper stages of sleep, blood flow increases to your muscles which in turn brings oxygen and nutrients that help regenerate cells and repair muscle tissue that may have been damaged during exercise. Your body also releases hormones such as human growth hormone (HGH) and prolactin which stimulate muscle growth and repair as well as regulate inflammation, amongst others.
For athletes/athletic individuals, insufficient sleep can impact reaction time, recovery, and overall performance as well as career longevity and injury risk. It has been shown that athletes who get less than 6 hours of sleep the night before play are 1.7 times more likely to be injured when compared to those who got 8+ hours per night.
Sleep requirements for the general population are recommended as 7-9 hours per night. However, everyone is different. As for athletes, individuals less than 24 years old require 9-10 hours per night, whereas individuals 25+ years old require about 8-10 hours per night.
A sleep extension study performed with collegiate basketball players showed a 9% improvement in free throw shooting accuracy and 9.2% improvement in field goal 3-point shooting when players received a minimum of 10 hours of sleep each night over a 5-7 week period compared to their normal sleep-wake schedule. Players also reported improvement in overall physical and mental well-being as well as more enjoyment during practices. Similarly, collegiate swimmers who extended their sleep to 10 hours per night demonstrated a 20% improvement in reaction time of the block, 10% improvement in turn time efficiency, and 8% improvement in sprint speed.
We can see the many benefits of sleep for performance, recovery, and injury prevention, but many people still find it difficult to get enough sleep or enough quality sleep. Some common barriers to proper sleep include:
Remember, recovery DAY is essential, but also be sure you’re getting regular, consistent recovery NIGHTS!
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Author: Annemarie Alf
"We Specialize In Optimizing Teen And Active Adult Lives In North County San Diego By Addressing The WHOLE Person. We offer A Holistic, Integrative Approach To Performance And Wellness That Will Assess And Address The Root Causes That Lead To Pain, Hormonal Imbalances, Fatigue, Weight Gain And/ Or Decreased Performance."