Sleep and Physical Activity

Sleep and Physical Activity

Sleep and Physical Activity – How much sleep do we need if we increase our physical activity?

With the upcoming USN Body Makeover Challenge, we are gearing up to change our lives. We have provided you with the diet and the exercise program, but you will also need to adjust your sleep pattern to avoid mental and physical exhaustion. This brings us to our topic, how much sleep is needed for optimal recovery after periods of intensive exercise.

Our bodies release growth hormones to help our body grow new muscles, repair damage and strengthen bones.  When you increase your workout load, you will also need to increase sleep time to allow extra recovery time due to the increased stress load that exercise has on our bodies.

If we don’t get enough sleep, it can lead to fatigue, muscle soreness and jet lag symptoms. When our sleep quantity is compromised, the detrimental effects to the outcome of training and the recovery process include impaired muscle glycogen replenishment, impaired muscle damage repair, alterations in cognitive function and an increase in mental fatigue.

Adults between the ages of 18 and 50 years old tend to require about 7 – 8 hours of sleep per night. Athletes, however, need a bit more as they train their bodies fast and hard. Adult athletes should increase their rest to at least 9 – 10 hours per night and 10 – 11 hours per night if they are training for a big event.

Some great tips for increasing the quality of your sleep are:

  • Get out of bed – This might seem counterintuitive, but if you are struggling to fall asleep the pressure and concentration you are exerting trying to drift off may be keeping you awake.
  • Regulate your caffeine intake – Caffeine is a very beneficial stimulant, but if you are consuming it too late in the evening, it can leave you feeling wide awake and/or jittery. You should cut the caffeine from about mid-afternoon.
  • Electronic devices & the light they emit is also a sleep-thief – Light exposure suppresses the natural release of melatonin, the hormone that helps the body maintain its circadian rhythm – your body’s natural sleep/wake cycle. The ideal sleep environment is complete darkness and getting rid of light emitting devices, while you sleep may greatly improve your sleep quality.
  • Exercise too close to bedtime – This can elevate your body temperature and leave your mind too stimulated to drift off. End your exercise sessions about three to four hours before your bedtime if you struggle to fall asleep. This will give your body temperature adequate time to cool down.

Incorporating these tips into your daily lifestyle will more than likely lead to better rest and as a bonus, better training results, which leads to an increased metabolic rate, which leads to more calories burnt at rest.

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