The Relationship Between Sleep and Recovery19 Feb 2019

There’s no denying we all feel better after a good night’s sleep! Waking up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the next day is always a brilliant feeling, but what are the other benefits of sleep and how does it relate to muscle recovery?

Repair and growth

Strenuous exercise creates micro tears in your muscles. When you are asleep your energy consumption is drastically reduced and your body and brain are at rest, which means energy can be used on restoring your muscles and bones.

Growth hormones are also released when we sleep, aiding muscle growth. However, this hormone secretion can be negatively impacted by poor quality sleep, when some stages of the sleep cycle are not reached – we’ll go more into this further on.

For your mental well-being

Ever had a bad night’s sleep where you’ve laid awake for most of the night? It’s likely that this left you feeling unable to properly concentrate the next day. Sleep aids mental alertness directly, and without it we are unlikely to make the most out of our day, whether that be in the gym or simply at work. Motivation levels are also often highest when the mental alertness is highest, implying that a good amount of sleep can help with your motivation.

Sleep cycles

Most people go through about 5 cycles of sleep a night. Each cycle consists of 5 stages:

Stage 1 – between being asleep and awake.

Stage 2 – the baseline of sleep.

Stage 3 and 4 – the deepest stages of sleep known as delta, this is the most restorative for the brain.

Finally, REM (rapid eye movement) where the brain activity, heart rate and breathing quickens. A night’s sleep without stages 3, 4 and REM can be problematic as this is when the brain is at complete rest and where memory consolidation occurs, which can affect the body’s ability to repair and grow.

Tips for getting enough sleep

It’s clear that getting enough sleep is important to aid mental and physical wellbeing. Take a look at some of our tips to help you get the sleep you need:

  1. Avoid alcohol and caffeine – alcohol disrupts the stages of sleep while caffeine keeps you awake.
  2. Exercise – exercising is likely to tire you out, making sleep come faster to you at night. However, intense training sessions late at night are likely to have the opposite effect due to the adrenaline produced, so late night workouts are best avoided.
  3. Don’t watch TV or use your phone in bed – the blue light from the screen disrupts the production of melatonin, which is a hormone that effects our sleep cycle. Try putting your phone away an hour before you go to sleep.
  4. Make evenings relaxing – try to completely switch off from your daily activities. Reading a book before bed can help you wind down and relax before bed.
  5. Check your bedroom environment – it sounds simple, but make sure your bedroom is conducive to sleep. 20 degrees Celsius is a good estimate at optimal temperature, but it’s ultimately down to the individual. Make sure you have adequate curtains to block out any street lights that may keep you awake and keep noise to a minimum.

Even the best diet, training routine and supplements can’t compensate for insufficient rest, with sleep being the best type of rest we can have. Even physiotherapy can be hindered if someone isn’t resting enough! Sleeping 7-9 hours a day is crucial to aid muscle recovery. If you find yourself looking for other ways to aid your recovery, take a look at the benefits of sports massage and book an appointment with our sports massage therapist.


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The Relationship Between Sleep and Recovery

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