Mini Series: Everything You Need to Know About Recovering - Sleep

The following is such an important topic that I am breaking it up for you in digestible bites.  Welcome back to a mini series created from the article published in Juggernaut Training Systems.  Click here to see last week's intro installment.

Fatigue Reduction Methods that Work Well:

The fatigue reduction modalities presented in this section are the ones that almost certainly work and work well. They were chosen because they have three distinct advantages in their favor:

– They have strong support in the peer-reviewed literature.

– They logically align with our greater understanding of sport science and physiology.

– They have been used and sworn by in the real world for a long time and by a diverse group of athletes and gym rats alike.

When you’ve got all three, you know you’re on to something that really works. And our first – and easily most powerful – fatigue reducer:

1) Sleep

Sleep is such a powerful fatigue fighter that it’s likely more effective than all of the other items on this list combined. In fact, if insufficient sleep is a chronic occurrence, it comes close to making even the best efforts on all other fatigue fighting lines null and void. Curiously, a likely major function of sleep in animals (including humans) is precisely to reduce fatigue. Yeah, you might be OK without that massage post-workout, but sleep is not optional.

Going chronically without needed sleep leads to all sorts of fun effects, including performance losses, technique execution difficulties, and profound elevations of cortisol and decreases in testosterone. Going without sleep has also been shown to do two things that are especially interesting: cause fat gain and later, weight loss (if depravation gets bad enough). Fat gain combined with weight loss is literally the fastest way to lose muscle. It’s a REALLY bad deal.

OK fine, sleep is good, no sleep is bad. Got it. What about some practical recommendations? How much is enough? Well, the average trainee seems to need about eight hours of quality sleep per night. But that doesn’t mean much, because you might not be the average trainee. We ALL know that guy who sleeps five hours a night and recovers just fine! Ronnie Coleman was supposedly in this unique group of athletes. So what’s the deal?

It seems that the best recommendation for sleep is: Get enough FOR YOU. Your training partner might need six hours of sleep, and your coach might need 10, but the only thing you need is enough sleep for your own physiological needs. How do you know you’re getting enough? The truth is: Unless you’re a little kid, you know.

If you wake up tired and get sleepy during the day all the time, you’re not getting enough quality sleep. If you feel A-OK without massive doses of stimulants, you’re likely fine. It’s always good to experiment with a bit more sleep if you’re OK to see if there is a benefit, but generally, it’s that simple. And the thing is, almost everyone KNOWS when they are sleep deprived. They know, but they say “my job is demanding” or “the stress keeps me from sleeping,” or they just love late-night TV and can’t quit the habit. And it’s OK to be sleep deprived now and again, but if it’s a chronic thing, it will have a large impact on your training results. That’s for sure.

Is it all right to party super late a couple of weekends a month? Of course! But if you’re under-sleeping five days per week, you might benefit from making sure you get the sleep you need … on a REGULAR basis.

How are you at lights out?  Tune in next week to follow up with another underestimated fatigue reducer: Sleep.  Got questions?  Talk to your coach about your recovery routine.