The Importance of Sleep for Sports Recovery
To be successful in any sport activity, combinations of different factors are needed
such as: genetic, perseverance, trainability, nutritional behaviors and appropriate rest.
However not only high-performance athletes can be benefit from hours of sleep, the best way
to rest and recover. In fact, any kind of individual will be benefit from an appropriate night of
Exercise is a controlled stress factor that can make different changes over a human
body. Those changes are metabolic and hormonal stimulus to the body to adapt and increase
its ability to perform a specific movement. To perform any kind of movement, especially in a
high intense form, the body needs to transform chemical fuels (such as glucose) in to energy
(ATP) a process called catabolism. At this moment hormones like adrenaline, cortisol and
glucagon are in very concentration in the body, blocking the ability to release anabolic
hormones like growth hormone, testosterone, estrogen, among others. Anabolic hormones
are the ones responsible for building tissue.
Although anabolic hormones are release while we are awake, the most powerful
anabolic hormone, Insulin, is the most predominant along the day. The problem of high
concentrations of this hormone along the day is that it even though it is responsible for
building muscle, it is mainly responsible for building fat tissue. Insulin is very sensitive to the
ingestions of fat, proteins and mainly carbohydrates that come from the diet, and can block
the ability of the body to release growth hormone, testosterone and estrogen.
So, what sleep can do for overall health and muscle building (or recovering)? During
sleep, the body maximizes its output of growth hormone what allows the body to repair itself
and grows new muscle tissue. At the same time, sleeping also replenishes critical
neurotransmitters (chemicals that are used to relay, amplify and modulate signals between
neuron and another cell) that you need the body to build effectively and safely.
These chemicals are responsible for focus, attention, motivation, overall energy levels
and muscular contractions. Theses chemicals are depleted by hard training and everyday
activities, and only sleeping allows your body to repair itself and replenish the chemicals that
are needed for you to get best results.
At the same time, sleeping is important for the immune system, for mental health and
millions of biochemical processes that occur in the body every day. If a person does not get
enough sleep, the body will not function optimally, the health will decline, and sport
performance will suffer. As result, it can be seen a system-wide inflammation, increases in
cortisol levels (a catabolic hormone), muscle wasting and increase in body fat. In fact,
sleeping deprivation magnifies the stressful impact of exercise upon body, increasing the risk
of overtraining, but mainly, the risk of injury.
To maximize the anabolic potential of sleep there are two different, and equally
important approaches: manipulating the sleep environment and using effective supplements.
Optimize the environment by avoiding noises and looking for a dark as possible situation will
increase the release of a hormone called melatonin. This hormone facilitates sleep onset
and is wildly associated with the optimal release of growth hormone.
That is why melatonin is considered an important supplement to optimize the effects
of sleeping. However, zinc, magnesium, vitamin B6, Gaba, among others can make an
immense impact in the quality of sleep.