I can’t tell you how important sleep is. Its the key to so many aspects of our health, from our performance to our body composition, to how we feel, to how we crave food, and on and on.
Sleep is so amazing, but I think we often overlook it, sucked into traps like watching TV or staring at our phones at night or working too late, etc.
Here’s a quick story…
I’m skiing with my family and for the first time I’m having to work hard to keep up with my 13 year old son on the slopes. He’s turned a corner with his skills, he’s getting bigger and stronger and he’s flying down the mountain.
After a long day of skiing hard, we turn in for the day and hit the pool and hot tub. My body is aching like you wouldn’t believe. Knees tight and hurting, quads super tired, glutes on fire. I’m beat, wondering what I’ll feel like in the morning, knowing I have three days of skiing left (not complaining here, I LOVE skiing).
Fast forward to the next morning. I got a full night of sleep – a full 8 hours, and I wake feeling refreshed. My legs are not sore. My knees feel good. I need to stretch or hit a ROMWOD, but I feel good and ready to hit the slopes.
The magic of sleep is what happened!
While it is still a mystery in many ways, there are a few big things that happen when you sleep –
- Growth Hormone Release
- Leptin Release
- Cortisol Reduction
According to experts, 50-60% of growth hormone is released when your body is asleep. Most of this happens in the first half of the night. In other words, if you want recover and grow, get to bed early.
Letpin is released at night while you sleep and represses your appetite so you don’t wake up hungry. It also regulates insulin, which is a fat storage hormone (the more insulin you release, the more fat you store).
Cortisol is a useful hormone, but it is there for a purpose, it is our fight-or flight response hormone. Its a stress hormone that is there for us to survive in certain situations. It too is a fat storage hormone, and a high stress/low sleep lifestyle increases its production. That’s bad because cortisol is also a fat storage hormone, and I’m pretty sure most of us don’t need extra fat storage.
The link below is a free article from the CrossFit Journal, and it will spell this all out in greater detail.
Check it out, but don’t stay up too late reading it!