Olympic athletes and their trainers have long emphasized the importance of quality sleep for athletic performance. Usain Bolt, reigning Olympic sprinting champion, has said: “Sleep is extremely important to me – I need to rest and recover in order for the training I do to be absorbed by my body.”
What if you’re not planning on breaking any world records, but just want to see gains in your performance at the gym? Is it just as important for you to prioritize sleep? Absolutely.
Your body stores energy in a molecule called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). In fact, all life forms (that we know of) use ATP as their "molecular unit of currency" for transferring energy between cells. The breakdown of ATP leaves adenosine—a chemical that makes you sleepy—as a byproduct, and when you’re very physically active, you’re left with a lot of circulating adenosine. Your body clears excess adenosine while you sleep.
Barring the effects of certain sleep disorders, when your body tells you that it’s time to sleep, it’s usually a good idea to listen. This is certainly the case following intense exercise. Remember that while sleep feels like a long stretch of nothing with a few dreams mixed in, it’s not a time of inactive rest for your body. The majority of tissue regeneration, including muscle growth following strength exercise, occurs during sleep. Sleep deprivation affects strength, endurance, appetite, and metabolism among other factors crucial for athletic performance—and you can safely bet that this is true for athletes and fitness enthusiasts alike.
The take-home message here is this: depriving yourself of sleep to squeeze a workout in is counterproductive. Exercise and sleep work hand in hand, and you are guaranteed to see and feel much better results from your fitness efforts if you make quality sleep a priority.
Sleeping on a surface that supports your spine and is well-suited for your body type is no less important. If you’re hitting the gym and getting enough rest but need a mattress upgrade, pay a visit to your local Regal Sleep Solutions. We work with healthcare providers to ensure that our mattresses support your goals, both in fitness and in the rest of your life.