Most of us know how important sleep is to our health, but with crazy, chaotic schedules, a good night’s rest is often the last thing on our minds. Quality sleep is one of our body’s basic requirements, yet over 70% of American adults aren’t getting enough of it. A scary thought, considering that a poor sleep schedule has been linked to everything from diabetes and heart disease to memory loss and high blood pressure.
While the average recommendation for adults is 7-8 hours of sleep a night, the truth of the matter is, sleep is free and we should all be taking as much of it as we can get. But more importantly, it’s also an essential, but often overlooked, part of your fitness. A quality and regular sleep schedule can help you bring more energy and intensity to your workouts while decreasing your recovery time.
Getting Zzzz’s to Get Fit
While things like good training and nutrition always make for a less-sluggish workout, there’s a proven correlation between sleep and exercise that even most athletes aren’t aware of.
A small study conducted by researchers at the Sleep Disorders Clinic and Research Laboratory at Stanford University followed five athletes on the Stanford women’s tennis team. They did nothing but increase their sleep to 10 hours a night for two months and there was a marked increase in performance accuracy in their gameplay. Cheri Mah, the studies lead author said that “The athletes who took part also felt better and realized for the first time the real effect sleep could have on performance.”
Not to mention the benefits of a faster recovery time. While you’re resting, your body is busy building and rebuilding muscle. Without enough sleep, it’s almost impossible for your body to fully recover from exercise.
Now, you don’t have to drastically change your sleep schedule, or be a women’s tennis player, to get more out of your workout. Even just a few more minutes of shut-eye each night can become that little bit of energy you need to finish your set the next day. As Runner’s World writer Mark Remy noted, “Most of us, I bet, don’t give sleep a second thought. It’s crazy, if you think about it. How can we expect to run well if we can’t stop yawning?
Tips & Tricks
Below are a few tried and true tips on how to improve your sleep schedule. Practicing any of these can lead to a better and more energized workout!
- Go to sleep at the same time each night, and get up at the same time each morning
- Avoid naps after 3pm
- Stay away from caffeine and alcohol late in the day
- Make your bedroom dark, quiet, and at a comfortable temperature
- Follow a routine to help you relax before sleep. Like reading or listening to soft music