How to Optimize Your Recovery: Sleep

You might find it hard to believe, but one of the most important factors in exercise recovery is sleep. Insufficient sleep slows muscle recovery, decreases aerobic endurance, increases stress, decreases your capacity to synthesize glycogen (the fuel that powers movement), and causes an increased rating of perceived exertion. That means you think your workout is harder just because you haven’t slept.

On top of all of that, lack of sleep can cause dramatic changes in mood and prevents the natural processes that help you remove the emotional weight and attachment to stressful and upsetting experiences.

During sleep, we process our life experiences in an environment biochemically void of stress, allowing our brains to categorize and process these incidents, and uncouple them from upsetting emotions. In a nutshell, if you don’t sleep, it’s hard to heal mentally and the struggle of life feels harder.

Sleep is the time when the neurons we prioritized during the day are pruned. Learning new skills actually happens in the brain only while you’re asleep. If you want to get better at whatever you do from your physical activities to learning new skills, and improving efficiency at your job or responding differently in your relationships, you need to sleep on it.

Many elite athletes report sleeping 10-12 hours each night. They require more sleep to be able to process and recover from the intensity of the physical demands on their bodies. Before you @ me about how you don’t need a lot of sleep, remember: surviving on 5-6 hours of sleep a night is not the same as living optimally and feeling amazing. Lack of sleep has massive impacts on hormonal balance, stress perception, emotional regulation, muscle recovery, and more.

Blue light and coffee get blamed for our poor sleep habits and that’s only part of the story. Watch the video to learn more about simple, free techniques to improve your ability to fall asleep as well as sleep quality and duration. A well-rested you is a healthier and happier you.

Bonus! Here’s one of my favorite Yoga Nidras for sleep.