The Benefits Of Sleep To Training
The sleep requirements of those involved in rigorous athletic training are greater than those pursuing a more sedentary lifestyle. For example, a younger individual that normally requires eight hours of sleep will usually benefit from more sleep during times of rigorous exercise.
Intense training breaks down muscles and increases the release of the stress hormone cortisol. Sleep allows for much-needed healing and recovery. Fortunately, although training demands more restorative sleep, exercise often makes deep sleep easier to achieve.
Stages of sleep
The amount of sleep one gets is of lesser value if the quality of sleep is deficient. When you first dose off, the very first stage of sleep does little to facilitate recovery. However, noticeable changes such as a decrease in heart rate and body temperature do occur.
In the second sleep stage, the body's systems slow down to an even greater degree. After one or two hours, one enters a deeper level of rest even as some things speed up, like eye movements and heart rate. One may even move restlessly during this time, and dreaming is more common. During the course of a full night's rest, the cumulative effect of these cycles contributes to muscle recovery.
The challenge of sleep debt
Inadequate sleep over a period of days or weeks causes the build-up of "sleep debt." Sleep debt occurs when someone regularly does not get enough quality sleep. Inadequate recovery is a consequence of a chronic shortage of sleep. This results in reduced training efficiency, a compromised immune system and an increased risk of injury.
How much sleep is enough?
Sleep requirements vary among individuals. Age, metabolism, physical activity and stress levels all impact the amount of sleep that is required. However, it is often all too easy to minimize one's sleep requirements. Intense physical activity often promotes better sleep, so sleep needs are sometimes underestimated as overall fitness improves.
Athletes and other fitness-minded individuals experience the greatest success when training, nutrition and recovery are all properly considered. When it comes to recovery, it is vital to understand that sleep is an inevitable component of this important process.
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