In the modern day and age, sleep is often a luxury that is taken for granted. In2019, the average person sleeps for 6 hours and 19 minutes. In particular, 40% of people in the UK sleep for 6 or less hours per night. To fully understand the impacts this can have, especially with training, we need to know a bit more about sleep.
Sleep is comprised of two main stages, REM and non-REM sleep. The REM sleep stage, or rapid eye movement stage, is where dreams typically occur. This stage is related to the retention of information, learning and what is thought to be when our brain processes events of the day. The non-REM stage (which has its own 3 separate stages) is a deeper sleep, which is typically where our body focuses on recovery, rebuilding tissue, building muscle, and strengthening the immune system.
We cycle through all these stages as we sleep, starting with the non-REM stages, through to REM sleep and back to non-REM. We tend to spend more time in REM sleep after the 4 hour mark, and a complete cycle of all the stages lasts 90-110 minutes.
Ultimately, if you’re not getting adequate amounts of sleep, then it’s likely that you’re going to struggle to fully recover from training. Training doesn’t end at the gym, it ends at recovery. If you have an unbalanced relationship between training and recovery, then you may experience prolonged fatigue, abnormal training responses, lack of motivation and increased risk of injury and illness.
Studies have shown that, those who sleep under 8 hours per night on average were 1.7 times more likely to sustain an injury than those who slept over 8 hours. (Milewski et al 2014).
Lastly, achieving over 8 hours of sleep just simply isn’t feasible for some. The point is to ensure that there is a balance between your training and your recovery. If your sleep cycle is short, like the average person, then make sure you adjust your training accordingly.
A simple way of assessing if you are getting adequate sleep is to go to sleep without an alarm. See what time you wake up, how long you’ve slept and if you’re feeling fully rested.
If you’d like to know more or adapt your training to your sleep cycle, then you’re more than welcome to contact me via the contact page.