Sleep – The King of Results

Jeff Willoughby, Director of Wellington's Studio 41 & MAT Therapist, explains the importance of quality sleep in maximising your post exercise recovery.

Jeffrey Willoughby

There is no better time for recovery to happen than in deep stage sleep. If there is truly ever magic happening then this is when it happens. I believe sleep to be one of the biggest under-estimated factors to getting results in the gym. Detoxification of the liver happens in deep stage sleep, thus if you are not allowing yourself those valuable hours of deep stage sleep your body can not detoxify itself adequately, this means that the body has to deal with higher than optimal toxicity levels. When the body has this going on internally, your results will be limited as your body will be over trained more easily as your body will need more /me to recover.

Between the hours of 10 pm and 2 am is when physical repair happens, between the hours of 2 am and 6 am is when the physiological repair happens. Thus if you are going to bed later than 10 or 10.30 then you are already missing out on valuable recovery time that your body needs. The 8 hours does start at 10 pm and not when you go to bed, so sleeping for 8 hours from 2 am to 10 am has been proven to not be as effective.

Dr Sonja Peterson N.M.D wrote an article labelled “A Good Nights Sleep” which points out some key reasons why sleep is so important.

1. Your metabolism declines due to a Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) decrease. With a lower metabolism you will not be burning as many calories on a daily basis.

2. “Research has shown that after just one week of insufficient sleep, the body can no longer metabolize carbohydrates efficiently. Blood sugar takes 40% longer to decrease after a high carb meal and insulin sensitvity decreases by 30%”. With the above information it is easy to see why a high carbohydrate meal combined with a lack of quality sleep leads us to ill health very quickly.

3. Deep stage sleep is when growth hormone is released. The way your bedroom is set up can make a big impact on your sleep. Follow the below rules and you should be set for a good night sleep.

Make your room as dark as possible.
It is only when you are in complete dark that melatonin is released. It is melatonin that helps your body get into deep stage sleep, and so without complete darkness you lack the ability to fully release your melatonin which means you will never go through your deep sleep cycle correctly. You should also turn down all lights in your living room an hour or 2 before you go to bed, this will start the melatonin production. If you go from a completely lit living room to expect to sleep in a dark room, it may be hard for your body to adjust that quickly.

Take all electronic equipment out of your room.
This includes TVs to your mobile phones. If you insist on having your phones in your room. Turning them off is not enough; take out the battery to completely stop all electromagnetic fields affecting your sleep patterns.

Make sure you associate your bedroom with sleep.
Do not take a whole lot of work with you to your bedroom or watch TV before you sleep. Just remember that your results will always be limited if you break down continually at the gym, you have to create the best environment for your results to happen.

Even if you are a weekend warrior, the above are simple steps you can take that do not affect your lifestyle too much – so why not, give it a go and have a great sleep!