Succeeding in the gym is often about doing more; more weight, more reps and more effort. However, as stress and exertion levels rise, overtraining is becoming more common. Allowing our body adequate time to repair is just as important as the time we spend using it, which is why sleep could be what’s holding you back.
“While exercise is a positive thing for many reasons, it essentially is a stress on the body that triggers a range of metabolic responses,” says Australian Institute of Fitness Queensland Training Manager Kate Kraschnefski. Without the right amount of sleep, Kate says the body actually remains in a state of heightened stress with lower energy levels and could even encourage the body to hold onto fat reserves.
If you’re looking for gains sleep also creates the ideal condition for building lean muscle mass, as we synthesise protein during our sleep and release human growth hormone.
“Ultimately, our bodies love patterns,” says Kate so getting into a regular sleeping routine is hugely beneficial in creating quality rest. Kate suggests you try to get to sleep at the same time every day, even weekends, and try to rise regularly.
Ultimately sleep is something we should be planning just like a workout in order to get the most benefit from hard work put in at the gym.
Some fitness gadgets give you the option to track your sleep which is a great starting point if you’re unsure. Kate recommends getting back to basics and listening to your body. “If you are feeling flat for more than just the odd day, or your PB’s are not trending positively, it may be time to lower the volume and intensity of your training, and assess your sleep patterns.”
Kate says as she recommends using time off to re-evaluate if you’re simply overtraining, under-sleeping or you’re experiencing something more significant in which case you should consult a doctor.