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Please... sleep!

We all know sleep to be an essential part of our lives as it has a direct effect on all aspects of our health. A lack of sleep can take a significant toll on our energy, productivity, emotional & mental wellness along with our weight. Rather than simply being an inactive period for the body, sleep is now known to be a dynamic state that is essential for memory consolidation, development, and restoration of nervous, immune, skeletal, and muscular systems (Kline, 2012).

Looking at sleep from a strength training perspective, it is a vital part of the recovery process. During sleep the adaptations to the training you’ve done occurs. One part of this adaptation is the increase in growth hormone (Adamson, Hunter, Ogunremi, Oswald, & Percy-Robb, 1974). Linked to this aspect of the adaptation is protein synthesis whereby the protein you have consumed during the day helps to repair the micro damage done to the muscles you trained. This allows your muscles to become stronger and bigger, while also better able to handle the load you put it under during future workouts. The increase in muscle also allows your body to increase its metabolic rate, and this helps you to better use fat as an energy source.

When it comes to how much sleep is required for adults, there are differing opinions available ranging from 5-9 hours per night. What needs to be made clear is that the quality of your sleep has increased significance for health benefits compared to the quantity of your sleep (Pilcher, Ginter, & Sadowsky, 1997). Regular decreased sleep quantity adversely affects sleep quality (Dinges, et al., 1997) which restricts the benefits your body gets from sleep. This can greatly hinder your health and fitness goals.

Some practical tips you can take to increase the quality of your sleep include:

  • Keep in sync with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle

  • Try getting to sleep and waking up at the same time every day

  • Control your exposure to light

  • Get as much natural light as possible during the day, and avoid bright screens within 1-2 hours of sleeping. Also a nice dark room is very conducive to sleep.

  • Exercise during the day

  • daily moderate exercise can drastically improve the efficacy of your sleep (King, Oman, & Brassington, 2018)

  • Be smart about what you eat and drink

  • Avoid big meals at night, and limit the amount of liquids in the evening (so you’re not getting up too often to pee)

  • Wind down and clear your head

  • Try using one of the many relaxation techniques that are suitable to you prior to sleeping

  • Improve your sleep environment

  • Keep your room cool, make sure your bed is comfortable and reserve your bed for sleeping and sex – this allows your mind to disassociate your bed with eating, watching TV or any other activity that takes away from sleep

  • Learn ways to get back to sleep

  • If you do happen to wake briefly during the night, try and stay out of your head and make relaxation, not sleep your goal

(Smith, Robinson, & Segal, 2018).

Remember, sleep isn’t just about being in bed. It’s about giving your body an opportunity to repair itself so that you can be better than the day before, as you work your way towards your health and fitness goals.

Sleep easy.


Adamson, L., Hunter, W., Ogunremi, O., Oswald, I., & Percy-Robb, I. (1974). Growth Hormone Increase During Sleep After Daytime Exercise. Journal of Endocrinology.

Dinges, D., Pack, F., Williams, K., Gillen, K., Powell, J., Ott, G., . . . Pack, A. (1997). Cumulative Sleepiness, Mood Disturbance, and Psychomotor Vigilance Performance Decrements During a Week of Sleep Restricted to 4-5 Hours per Night. Sleep, 267-277.

King, A., Oman, R., & Brassington, G. (2018). Moderate-Intensity Exercise and Slef-rated Quality of Sleep in Older Adults. JAMA Network.

Kline, C. E. (2012). Sleep and Exercise. In F. C. Mooren, Encyclopedia of Exercise Medicine in Health and Disease. Springer.

Pilcher, J., Ginter, D., & Sadowsky, B. (1997). Sleep quality versus sleep quantitty: Relationships between sleep and measures of health, well-being and sleepiness in college students. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 583-596.

Smith, M., Robinson, L., & Segal, R. (2018). How to Sleep Better. Retrieved from

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