In addition to being vitally important, rest and recovery during and after exercise are two of the most overlooked and misunderstood variables of a training program.
Rest between sets, exercises and workouts is important, as is the amount of nightly sleep a person gets.
Research indicates that active folks have an increased need for total sleep and for the restorative “slow-wave” sleep… Sleep deprivation occurs when a person doesn’t get adequate sleep, and while there haven’t been any conclusive findings regarding how sleep deprivation can affect physical performance, there’s every indication that sleep deprivation can have a negative effect on your level of physical fitness and ability to perform a variety of tasks.
Losing 1 hour of sleep over the course of 2 weeks will put a person in some serious sleep debt and can affect performance as it can negatively impact recovery from workouts. Without going into a whole rigmarole about the different phases of sleep, suffice to say that the slow-wave sleep – the third and fourth phases of sleep – are the deepest and most important phases of sleep.
During this time, we’re as close to hibernation as is humanly possible. Slow-wave sleep is the precursor to Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, and we go from slow-wave sleep to REM sleep 4-6 times during the time when we are asleep. Our bodies are always in a process of recovery, but during slow-wave sleep the recovery process is really humming along as it’s really the body’s main concern.
When we’re in this phase of sleep only the most essential functions are active so that growth and repair are maximized. Our metabolism is at its lowest point while the endocrine system, via the pituitary gland, increases the amount of hormones that it pumps out.
Here’s a Sleep Quiz that appeared in the April 2002 edition of the National Strength and Conditioning Association’s Strength and Conditioning Journal, in an article written by Peter Walters, PhD, CSCS of the Kinesiology Department at Wheaton College.
- Do you frequently fall asleep if given a sleep opportunity? (A sleep opportunity is defined as a quiet, dark environment for at least 10 minutes)
- Do you usually need an alarm clock to wake you?
- Do you tend to “catch up” on sleep during the weekends?
- Once awake, do you feel tired most mornings?
- Do you frequently take naps during the day?
- Do you consistently sleep more than 9.5 hours per night?
- Do you feel lethargic or “slow” throughout the day?
- Do you sleep longer during times of depression, anxiety and stress?
This quiz was designed for athletes, but I think that it pertains to just about everyone and can help to determine a person’s sleep needs. According to the article in which this quiz appeared, if you answer yes 2 or more times to questions 1-5 you might need more sleep, and if you answer yes 2 or more times to questions 6-8, you might need more sleep. Being that there is no perfect formula to determine how much sleep a person needs, these questions can help you to figure out how much sleep that you need.