Stop Knowing It, Start Doing It: Improve Sleep And Improve Your Odds Of Hitting Goals Faster

August 18th, 2021

(5 Minute Read)

Want To Recover From Workouts Faster? It’s Time To Prioritize Sleep

Even though it seems like the most obvious thing ever, about 35% of adults still don’t get enough sleep1. So maybe realizing just how important it really is, will help to keep you from being that 1 in 3. Let’s see if we can motivate you to make sleep a priority.


By far the brain and central nervous system (CNS) play the largest role in optimal physical performance2. Yeah, being stronger, leaner or more flexible is great, but if you don’t have the basic ability to control your body, you’re not going to be able to accomplish much. That’s what your CNS does.


The only way your CNS can recharge is with proper sleep.  But that isn't the only thing going on that proper sleep can do for your fitness goals. 


Top 5 Recovery Benefits From Quality Sleep

Recharge Hormone Levels– Good, deep sleep is going to do more than just recharge energy and nervous system, but also allow your system to create and balance hormone levels. Proper hormone levels will help you heal and grow muscle faster, along with optimizing insulin levels and fat mobilization

     Repair Tissue - Most tissue growth and repair occurs during sleep. When you exercise, you are actually causing micro-trauma to your muscles. The faster you repair this unavoidable damage, the faster you will no longer experience muscle soreness

Release Growth Hormone3 – Yeah, we mentioned hormones, but this one is worth mentioning a second time. Growth Hormone is vital in muscle growth, repair, and performance. Want to naturally have the highest levels possible? Get your sleep in

Glucose Metabolism– If you are training and eating properly, your body is relying on glucose to fuel it and power it through your workouts. Minimizing your sleep will decrease your body’s ability to metabolize glucose which will lead to both decline physical and mental performance

Kill Cravings2 – Studies have shown that failing to get enough sleep will actually cause you to crave salty, fatty foods. One of the hardest parts of body recomposition is fighting off cravings and remaining disciplined with your diet. Do yourself a favor, don’t make those cravings even stronger with poor sleep habits.

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So How Much Do You Need?

Really, its quality over quantity. Some top training athletes shoot for as much as 9 hours, but 6 hours of quality sleep will out do 9 hours of poor sleep any day of the week. Ultimately, you want to shoot for a minimum of 7 hours, being closer to 9 hours is optimal.  If you want to improve sleep quality, there are many things you can do. 

Top 4 Ways To Improve Sleep Quality

No Screen Time 90 Minutes Prior to Bed – Blue light from screens actually decreases the output of melatonin, and will delay the transition from awake to asleep. If you put an end time to using your devices in the evening, getting 7-9 hours of sleep would probably seem possible all of a sudden

Have A Schedule You Stick To - Not only is planning ahead beneficial to make sure you have the time to sleep enough, but your body also responds well to the repetition. Getting into a routine prior to bed, as well as getting in bed the same time every night will help you start to get higher quality sleep.  

Avoid Caffeine within 6 hours of bed - Notice we don’t say avoid it completely. 1-2 cups of coffee provide levels of caffeine that have shown to improve mental and physical performance. But it most not be taken later in the day.

Sleep Nutrition – Some foods can help improve quality of sleep including bananas, yogurt, milk, rice, grapefruit, kiwis, oats, turkey, cherries, walnuts and almonds.  No particular serving sizes or timing, just find a way to work these foods into your general diet.

Perfect Sleep Cycles With Infrared

Some will tell you that an infrared session, matched with a cool shower, is relaxing enough to put the biggest insomniacs to rest.  But there is some science behind why Infrared Sauna can help improve your quality of sleep, and in the process, boost the rate at which your body is recovering from physical activity.


Increase Serotonin – This neurotransmitter is critical in maintaining a circadian cycle.  Serotonin helps to properly time your wake cycle, as well as make your system more sensitive to signals from the body to shut down, start sleeping, and amp up recovery processes.


Oxytocin Release – This happens in more than one way with infrared. The first can come from the relaxing state that is created during a sauna session, some refer to it as forced meditation. A second way to boost it is with a cool shower post sauna. Although a little bit of a shock at first, the time after creates an oxytocin fueled zen rush.


Raise Melatonin Levels – many are familiar with this natural chemical, some even supplement with it. But there’s nothing better than the real thing. Melatonin works in cooperation with serotonin, helping the body fall asleep, successfully hit all cycles of sleep, and signaling your wakeup upon recuperation.

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References

1. “1 In 3 Adults Don't Get Enough Sleep.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 16 Feb. 2016, www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/p0215-enough-sleep.html.


2. Underwood, John, and Keara White. Sleep and Recovery: An Applicable Approach to Lifestyle of Recovery and Rest for Athletes. www.wm.edu/offices/sportsmedicine/_documents/sleep-manual


3. Van Cauter E, Plat L. Physiology of growth hormone secretion during sleep. J Pediatr. 1996 May;128(5 Pt 2):S32-7. doi: 10.1016/s0022-3476(96)70008-2. PMID: 8627466


4. Bird, Stephen P. PhD, CSCS1,2 Sleep, Recovery, and Athletic Performance, Strength and Conditioning Journal: October 2013 - Volume 35 - Issue 5 - p 43-47 doi: 10.1519/SSC.0b013e3182a62e2f