A Case for Sleep

sleepBefore I started training for physical events, I really never gave the issue of “sleep” much thought.

I mean, I either slept well or I didn’t…

I didn’t really concern myself with whether or not I got in my 8 hours every night.

But as my training progresses, I find that I am much more connected to my body and it’s needs.

I can actually tell when something is out of balance nutritionally, and my sleep cycle is something I am very much tuned in to.

I came across an article by Stew Smith on Military.com that discusses the importance of adequate sleep while training:

“The best training plans will not work if sleep and nutrition are neglected. Without adequate sleep (eight hours a night), there is not enough rest for muscle cell growth and repair. In fact, when you sleep, growth hormone is produced and protein synthesis in the muscles occurs if you eat foods with protein during the day. For adolescents especially, sleep is critical as growth can be impaired when quality and quantity of sleep is lacking. 

Lack of sleep can also affect your mood and increase hormonal stress levels which will have a negative impact on performance. Now, one night of missed sleep is not going to have many negative affects on your performance, but several days in a row or a few weeks of interrupted sleep can lead to symptoms similar to over-training syndrome.”

This leads me to wonder if my conclusion that I was over-training last month was actually more of a sleep issue than a training issue (because, let’s face it, I wasn’t racking up INCREDIBLE volume or anything).

The 4th quarter of last year was incredibly busy and stressful.  There were plenty of LOOOONG days and plenty of nights where sleep got short shrift.  There were also plenty of night when I tossed and turned because of some worry that was niggling at me or because I had some work event that I was stressed about.

In hindsight, I can see where lack of quality SLEEP may have been the underlying issue.

Of course, once Christmas Eve rolled around and we knocked off from work for 10 days, training stopped, stress was reduced, and I slept like a baby.  All issues were resolved.

The lesson I take from this is that I need to look beyond the obvious when I am self-diagnosing.  Sometimes the answer may be much simpler than “Dr. Google” would have me believe.

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