The Super Powers of Sleep

Superfoods, supershoes, superfuel, super workouts and super recovery gadgets have all become the rage over the past decade as over stressed, time constrained weekend warriors try to find that elite performance edge.

However, one of the most powerful performance enhancers which is often overlooked is a simple good night's rest.
Check out these amazing benefits:  
1. Muscle and bone growth

While we are sleeping our bodies release Testosterone and HGH (Human Growth Hormone), two hormones which are important for the growth of muscle and bone tissue. The hormones are first released after the first REM cycle and continue to be released during each phase of deep sleep. Therefore not just more, but also more quality sleep, is like a free steroid drip throughout the night. In the good reads section below, I list a study which shows the effect of reduced sleep on tesosterone levels in young men.

2. Increased uptake of protein and enhanced muscle repair

If you have read my various blogs on training and recovery, you would have learned that the performance gains happen after the hard training during rest when our bodies rebuild stronger. Optimizing conditions during rest for maximizing repair will improve performance gains and speed up recovery. One simple boost you can give your body is to take in a little extra protein just before sleep. Granny was on to something with her glass of warm milk before bed.

3. Maintaining a strong immune system

Training puts our bodies under a lot of stress and one of the most important challenges when preparing for a big race is to stay healthy. Not only do you want to minimize lost training days, but you also want to make it to the startline. Nothing like having to miss a race you worked hard for because of the flu! Sleep and immunity have a very important relationship. Good sleeping patterns strengthen and maintain good functioning of the immune system and at the same time lack of sleep severely compromises immune function. So next time during a hard training block, be intentional about your sleep.

Best of all, sleep is completely free!
Did you know: 

Being exposed to natural light early in the morning, kicks off an energy boosting cortisol release and starts our "clock", setting the time for our evening melatonin release. So if you are struggling to wind down in the evening, consider getting up early for a sunrise run. 

Sleep well, perform well! Onwards and upwards!

Coach Kathleen