By now, you’ve probably heard us talk dozens of times about the importance of sleep in your everyday life. And of course, there’s the obvious effects of great sleep: like feeling energized and alert. But one really big (and often unknown) one that myself and my co-coaches try to teach our clients, is the impact sleep has on your strength.
If you’re spending hours each week at the gym to become stronger, you definitely want to read what I’m about to share with you!
Here are 3 ways sleep impacts your strength.
NO. 1 Recover your muscles, but why?
Sleep is the only optimal recovery tool we have. Nothing you can do in daily life or through supplementation will do what sleep does for your body. Intense, I know, but so true! Sleep helps regenerate cells and repair the muscular and neurological systems.
When you train, you naturally break down muscle tissues. Without proper sleep to repair your muscles, your workout performance is compromised. And what would be the point of a workout if it wasn’t doing what it’s supposed to be? Specifically, a lack of sleep negatively affects your multi-joint coordination as seen in exercises like a deadlift, pull up, and other foundational movements.
On top of your performance being weakened, in general, your muscles should recover because they do so much to move your body. Muscles and tendons are the #1 thing to protect your joints. Poor sleep risks further breakdown, which can cause joint injuries or pain. To sum it up, muscle recovery on a daily basis is essential to live strong, pain-free lives, and the most effective and promising way to do this is through sleep!
NO. 2 Brain talk
As mentioned above, sleep helps repair your neurological system. If you have chronic patterns of sleeping under 7 hours it will likely affect your concentration. Do you ever find it difficult to learn something? Trace it back to sleep. If you strength train with All Day Fit, or other gyms that prioritize intelligent training styles, your workouts require high learning. You may not realize it but in each session your brain learns: what the movements are, how you do them, for how long, for how many, and more. A lack of concentration from poor sleep not only impacts your performance in the gym but your ability to show up as well!
NO. 3 Nutrition!
Your nutrition plays a MASSIVE role in your ability to build and maintain strength. You may be thinking, how does this involve my sleep? Get this: your sleep plays a MASSIVE role in your nutrition. Nutrition fluctuates from poor sleep. When you have a night of bad sleep, your hormone profile gets affected, so the body’s response is to try to make up for energy with things like sugar, highly processed foods, caffeine, etc. Ultimately, poor sleep changes your tendency to reach for whole, natural, colourful, and balanced foods.
You may eventually experience a nutrition crash, which could impact your workout performance and your ability to build and maintain muscle. A nutrition crash might more commonly impact your ability to even show up to your workouts. In other words: proper sleep = proper nutrition = great workout! (Note: every body is different and strength isn’t linear, thus, that equation isn’t always accurate. Struggling with your habits? Your best bet is to consult with an educated coach!)
I want to share with you some other interesting facts about sleep and strength. Let’s look at the inverse: how does strength affect your sleep?
Moving your body helps create the hormone: Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF). From Dr. Greg Wells, “… exercise can increase levels of circulating BDNF, which stimulates the growth of new neurons. This is one of the reasons why exercise improves mental alertness, learning and memory. However, it is also hypothesized that this increase in BDNF can improve sleep at night. So exercise can help you feel more alert during the day AND help you fall asleep at night!]
Reflection activity for you all: track your sleep for the next 14 days. Write the answers to these these 3 questions:
- How many hours of sleep did I get last night? (i.e. 7 hours)
- Did I stay asleep for the entire night? (Y or N)
- What would I rate the quality of my workout (depending on the days you train) in terms of energy, intensity, motivation, strength? (i.e. 1/10 being poor, 10/10 being excellent)
Reflect on these answers over 14 days and see which patterns between your sleep and workouts you can draw!
Looking for support with your sleep patterns? Check out Cassie Day’s 10 Tips For Better Sleep!
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