It is well known that sleep plays a major role in our body’s ability to repair itself. From the common cold to an intense training session, a good night’s sleep can do wonders for our health. With how busy the average adult life has become over the past few years it can be difficult to consistently get a good night’s sleep. From hectic work schedules, to rigorous college courses, to distractions such as cell phones and Netflix binges, it’s no wonder today’s society relies on a heavy dose of caffeine to get through the day. The majority of today’s adults don’t even remember what it feels like to be fully rested. So how much sleep is enough and is there a magic number we should all strive for?
According to The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, healthy adults should try and achieve 7-9 hours of sleep each night. This gives our body the right amount of time to repair and heal itself. During sleep, our bodies repair damaged tissue and there is an increase in blood flow to the muscles. Hitting the deepest stages of sleep also releases growth hormone, which is essential to muscle growth. Getting a good night’s sleep also plays a role in our metabolism. The hormones ghrelin and leptin, also known as the hunger hormones, are influenced during sleep. When we sleep, our body produces more leptin, which is responsible for making us feel satiated and full. If we don’t achieve a full night’s sleep, then our body will produce more ghrelin, which is responsible for making us feel hungry, and will likely contribute to food cravings throughout the day. So if you’re trying to lose weight, sleeping may actually improve your metabolism by increasing leptin levels and reducing food cravings throughout the day.
In regards to weight training, sleep will help to repair the damaged muscle fibers caused from lifting weights. When we forcefully contract the muscles during a lift, we cause tiny micro tears within the muscle fibers. When the body properly heals these micro tears, we get stronger. The sooner the body can heal these tears, the sooner we can hit the gym again. The frequency in which we can train will directly relate to overall performance increases, so being fully rested will optimize your ability to recover and get back in the gym for another training session. If we don’t get the proper amount of sleep and still train 5-6 times a weeks, then we are only hurting our body by never giving it the proper amount of time to recover. This can lead to overtraining and an increased chance for injury, which would only further inhibit progress.
The 7-9 hours recommended by The National Heart, Lung and Blood institute is a guideline for healthy adults. If you are following a consistent workout program you should aim to achieve closer to the 9 hour mark. So kick back, relax, and hit that snooze button!