• How Important is Sleep for Muscle Recovery?

Everyone knows how important sleep is for the average person. Without adequate sleep we are unable to concentrate properly and we become less effective at performing everyday tasks that need our focus.

Sleep not only nourishes the brain, but the body too. It is during sleep that the body is able to regenerate itself and allow torn muscles to heal and grow back stronger. This is especially important for athletes and people who work out regularly, because without adequate rest and recovery, stamina and strength will not build and improve.

There is a new study that has been conducted on athletes by Stanford University that showed those athletes who managed to get ten hours of sleep per night outperformed less rested athletes. Having a full nights rest also resulted in the athletes being more alert and focused on their goals, which in turn lead to better performance results.

Putting your body through intense regular workouts will bring about obvious beneficial results, but if you are starving your body of adequate sleep, this can have the same effect as overworking or over training your body and could result in exhaustion, muscle weakness and may even lower your immune system.

Exercised muscles can only repair and grow stronger when they are allowed to rest completely. Giving your body the chance to rest well after a day of hard work will also allow your brain to rest too and can often relieve the symptoms of insomnia and restless sleep.

Experts tell us that eight hours sleep per night is the minimum you need to function well, but this can vary from person to person. If your job requires you to work long hours or you have changing shift patterns that can interfere with the amount of sleep you get, then you may well find yourself waking up feeling quite sore from your previous days workout. Being able to have between eight to eleven hours of sleep per night is the optimum time to fully recover from exercise and to have the least amount of muscle soreness from the day before.

For those who are new to exercise, you may well experience more muscle soreness from your workouts, and it may well last longer than for someone more used to regular exercise. This is called ‘delayed onset muscle soreness’ or DOMS for short. At this early stage in your training routine it is just as important to get adequate rest to recover from your exercise sessions as it is for the more experienced exerciser.

For more experienced exerciser who may be training for an event, getting adequate sleep is also vitally important. If you have heard of the term ‘progressive overload’, which is where you progressively overload your body with each workout to achieve results, you will risk losing any progress if the workouts are performed too often without enough recovery time in between.

Boring disclaimer warning

This article was written by a Muscle Mayhem staff member. The information on this site is provided in good faith. Consult with your doctor before starting any exercise program. All opinions expressed on this site are our own. Always seek professional advice before engaging in any physical activity or diet.