This post is brought to you by Ron Merryman, Youfit’s very own Director of Education.
It is no secret that proper diet and exercise are crucial parts of the recipe for being fit. But rest and recovery is the other part of that recipe that carries major-league importance in your results. What exactly qualifies as rest and regeneration?
After a tough workout, you have depleted your body of nutrients and energy. You may have heard of a “post workout” shake or “post workout” meal. Eating these meals and shakes directly after a workout will provide nutrition your body needs to regenerate. Also after a workout, a waste buildup occurs throughout your body. There are a couple of ways to flush out this waste. You could perform a light to moderate intensity cardio session to increase your oxygen intake and circulation. Or you could perform some form of soft-tissue work such as using a foam roller to increase circulation. Taking one of these actions will help your muscles recover. These are the most common forms of active regeneration, but there’s another way to regenerate that is often overlooked and underrated: sleep.
Sleep is our natural revitalizer. It’s something we are born doing and something we seem to do less and less of as we age. What most people don’t recognize is how valuable sleep is to the results of their workouts. When we sleep, we regenerate our tissues. Increased protein synthesis and a number of other “busy workers” within your body perform jobs to get you ready for the next day. Other pretty important players, namely hormones, are involved too. Most people have heard of growth hormone and testosterone, but maybe not of ghrelin or leptin. Ghrelin is a hormone secreted in the stomach that stimulates appetite and the secretion of growth hormone. Leptin is a hormone that is produced in fat cells and stimulates the process of burning fat and suppressing appetite. Studies have shown that reduced sleep can decrease the stimulation of leptin and increase the production of ghrelin. Have you ever gone to bed late and woken up early only to find yourself extremely hungry? Now you know why.
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If you don’t get adequate sleep you will find that you are potentially:
- Producing less of the hormones you need for recovery, with the result that you will likely feel soreness for longer periods of time
- Producing more of the hormones that trigger increased appetite and fat storage
- Experiencing increased stress, anger, sadness and mental exhaustion
- More irritable
- Less motivated
These results don’t sound like the keys to a good workout. Here are some tips to getting a better night’s sleep so you can properly recover after a workout:
- Don’t drink caffeine in the second half of the day.
- Create a before-bedtime routine that signals the end of the day.
- Adhere to a bedtime, and avoid naps during the day.
- Read before bed to help wind down.
- Keep your phone outside arm’s length.
Sleep plays a vital role in our behaviors and could be a major indicator of why we aren’t getting the most out of our healthy lifestyle. If you aren’t quite as happy as you would like to be with your progress, take a look at your rest and regeneration. It could be causing you a nightmare!
Director of Education – Youfit