Rest and recovery are critical parts of a fitness routine. You may be so driven towards your fitness goals that you forget to capitalize on your rest periods. But it’s actually vital to take time for recovery if you want to train more effectively and improve your performance. During recovery periods, your muscles and other tissues get time to repair and strengthen.
Proper sleep is especially important for full recovery. As you are sleeping, your body produces Growth Hormone, which is involved in the growth and repair of your tissues, as well as energy levels, sexual drive, and fat loss.You should also keep in mind that it can take up to a full day or two for your muscles to fully repair so you shouldn’t take it lightly. There’s a reason why when you exercise you’re supposed to alternative muscle groups throughout the week.
In order to make the most out of your resting period, there are a few things you should know to make sure you’re getting your best night’s sleep. Hydration, having a winding down period, and creating a conducive sleeping environment are some of the needed aspects for proper recovery.
Hydration is obviously a key component to your workouts, but it’s also important for your sleep. As you work out and sweat, your body dehydrates. That’s why it’s important to drink water beforehand to prepare for your workout, during to avoid dehydration and maintain your energy, and after to restore electrolytes depleted. If you don’t keep up with your water consumption, you’ll dehydrate and have added difficulty getting sleep at night.
To fall asleep, our bodies need to experience a core body temperature drop. This is extra
difficult to achieve when you’re dehydrated. Plus, dehydration raises your heart rate, keeping you on edge and far away from dreamland. For sweeter dreams, stay euhydrated.
Incorporate a wind down routine
Speaking of high heart rates, working out naturally gets you hyped up and raises your heart rate. At the same time, your body produces the stress hormones cortisol and
norepinephrine. Cortisol inevitably prevents the production of melatonin, the hormone
controlling sleep/wake cycles, and makes it hard for you to fall asleep at night. Although the long-term effects of consistent exercise include lower heart rate and stress levels, the immediate effects of exercise are higher energy levels and increased heart rate. This is why it is essential to create a wind down routine to help you fall asleep at night.
A wind down routine relaxes your mind and body for better and deeper sleep. Deep sleep is especially important to your recovery, as stages 3 and 4 of non-REM sleep are the most vital for muscle recovery.
Did you know that if you’re sleeping on an old, worn-out mattress or even just sleeping in the wrong position, you could be contributing to your pain and soreness rather than
allowing that time to be set aside for restoration?
If your bed is more than seven years old, it’s likely that it has reached the end of it’s lifespan. The qualities that once gave you much needed comfort (like responsive coils or contouring foam) are probably worn down and useless within a decade.
Your sleep position could also be hurting you. Sleeping on your side is the most popular
sleeping position, but it doesn’t make it the best. This position can add tension in your neck, shoulders, knees, and hips if you aren’t properly stretched out or resting on a supportive bed that contours to your body. For better sleep, try sleeping on your back so you can evenly distribute your body weight and keep your spine in a neutral position.
Quick Tips to get started:
– Wind down early. Give yourself an hour or two before your bedtime to relax.
– Turn off the tech. Blue light stimulates your brain and stops melatonin production. Turn computers, cell phones, and TVs off. Instead, read a book or find some other calming activity to participate in.
– Take a warm bath. This relaxes your muscles and raises your body temperature,
preparing you for a smoother temperature drop needed for better sleep.
– Use essential oils. Great essences to start are lavender and cedarwood.
By following these tips, you’ll able to maximize the quality of your sleep and improve your recovery periods between workouts. At the same time, remember to stretch your muscles and keep up with a healthy nutritious plan to optimize your recovery.
To a Fitter Healthier You,
The FitnAll Family
Laurie Larson (contributing freelance writer based in NC who writes on living a healthier and happier lifestyle).