To consider sleep as an activity is difficult.
One assumes sleep to be a phase of inactivity or rest. But, the matter of fact is, that sleep is that active phase in our entire day's routine, when numerous bodily functions are expedited. The sales data of sleep inducing tranquilizers and sleeping pills prove the rising cases of sleep deficiency that owes a lot to the modern lifestyle. While profound research is available on the importance of exercise for the body, few embark on the desire to learn about rest and sleep...yet it is one of the most important factors in overall health and well-being.
What Is Sleep?
Firstly, it's important to understand that while the body rests , the mind and the brain go on a restorative hyper-drive. Bodily signals are sent to the various organs of to begin its build up for the next hour of optimum action. The more sleep deprived a person is, the more the chances of deficient physical and mental activity, as you've not allowed your body to recover from the previous bout or prepare for the next.
Sleep is a period of nerve and muscle relaxation which begins a period of repair and rejuvenation of all the tissues and organs , much needed after a day of hectic often strenuous activity. Sleep is determined by a certain biological cycle called as the 'circadian clock'. It depends on the intervals of certain number of hours of being awake followed by sleep, and so on. Other elements affecting it could be- the amount of light, stress levels, metabolism levels and even the medication we may be taking.
The Power of Sleep
Sleep is a powerful energy booster owing to the fact that while we sleep the process called 'anabolism' gets underway; understood more simply as the recovery process for cells and tissues through the production of enzymes and proteins. It in fact counteracts the effect of 'catabolism' or the process that occurs as you exercise or work- out during the day which produces an action wherein energy is released from cells.This affects the
molecular components of the body. If your catabolism exceeds anabolism ,little growth will happen . Thus those who strain themselves with a tougher workout or play an extra hour, must give their body the extra rest to sustain their growth of muscle mass, which is directly proportionate to fitness.
There is no contention to the fact that mental alertness, concentration levels, communication, creativity, emotional balance and the productivity levels of an individual is also affected by the amount of sleep.
The Recovery Process
Prolonged sleep deprivation has been linked to anxiety and depression . Sleep induces the release of certain hormones that affect the central nervous system of the body thus affecting mood and emotional stability. Less sleep increases Cortisol which is a catabolic hormone and it decreases testosterone levels that are directly related to muscle mass gain. Less sleep also means a higher insulin level that increases your body's resistance to nutritional absorption.
While one can not contest the importance of fitness training including weight training one must understand the mechanics of what really happens to the body while this physical stress is being faced. While we exercise or lift weights, the muscle contracts or crunches thereby getting compressed or shortened.
This happens when the muscle microfibers compress. With every stimulus you give to your body, the muscle is strained to respond. What must however be realised is that between the phases of stimulus, the muscle needs to recover from it by building new bridges across the new muscle groups that are slowly forming. This growth is only possible when the body rests.
Another disturbing consequence that comes with compromising on the amount of sleep has is in the raised levels of cortisone which has been directly linked to more
abdominal fats .While there has been encyclopedic quantum of research on the benefits of fitness programs, very little attention is paid to the importance of the body and its sleep requirement.
Balancing heavy workouts with its milder versions and adequate breaks from strenuous routines is not only the best antidote for perfect health, it's the best way to gain optimal benefits from your exercise routine.
So get your 7-8 hours of sleep per night and wake up ready to take on your day!