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The Importance of Sleep


Fathom the irony of my often sleep deprived self advising you to be sure to get plenty of sleep to aid in your well being. Never the less, the information I am going to give you is still valid despite the fact I work nights driving a semi over the road and spend a good bit of my personal time trying to keep my own sleep in order.

Actually, despite my odd and long hours on the road as a trucker, I still manage to get enough sleep. I make it a point to. I have to. There is no choice for me but to be well rested when I am running down the interstate in my 80,000 lb semi at 75 mph. Your safety and my own depend on me being as well rested as possible. However, this is but one of a few reasons why my sleep is important to me.

As a strength trainer who goes heavy with a barbell in the gym, my rest and recovery is of upmost importance in order to keep building on my efforts under the iron without burning out my central nervous system and in order to not only rest my body from the hard work, but to allow it the proper of time to repair itself. If sleep is cut short, the body does not have time to complete all the phases needed for muscle repair, memory consolidation and release of hormones regulating growth and appetite.

What Role Does Each Stage of Sleep Play?

According to Sleep Foundation;

Stage 1:

Srage 2:

Stage 3 and 4:

REM, (about 25% of your night); First occurs about 90 minutes after you fall asleep, and recurs about every 90 minutes, getting longer later in the night.

In addition, levels of the hormone cortisol dip at bed tie and increase over the night to promote alertness in the morning.

Sleep helps us thrive by contributing to a healthy immune system, and can balance out appetitesby helping to regulate levels of the hormones ghrelin and leptin, which play a role in our feelings of hunger and fullness. So, when we are sleep deprived, we may feel the need to eat more, which can lead to weight gain.

The one third of our lives spent sleeping, far from being “unproductive”, plays a direct role in how full, energetic and successful the other two thirds of our lives can be. (1)

Get Your Sleep!

Looking at all the positive and healing occurences which happens during Stages 3, 4 and REM, it is critical that everyone takes care of their sleep. And for those out there who are working towards losing weight by not only watching their diet, but by going to often times, extremes in exercise you had damn well better take care of your sleep. Odds are, if you are over weight and physically out of shape, it has likely been a while since you have participated in truly vigorous exercise of any form for any length of time. If this is you, then know the harder you go for your evel of fitness, the more you need to be vigilant of getting sufficient sleep.

I have said quite often that there is a triad in relation to strength training in that the triad is much akin to the three legs of a stool which must all be of equal importance. It seems I tell my trainee in strength training this at least a time or two per week. Lifting the iron, nutrition and getting adequate rest, or sleep n order for the body to heal itself. Without sleep, a lifter will soon burn out either by getting weaker instead of stronger because of fatigue. Or, in a worse case scenario, they will suffer from central nervous system fatigue which can sometimes feel about as bad as having the flu, yet without the fever. I know, I have been there in my early days of strength training. Trust me, CNS fatigue sucks…

By the way, this does not just apply to strength trainers, the need for adequate sleep applies to endurance athletes and those of us who have physically demanding jobs besides our vigorous exercise routines. The need for sleep applies to all in order to truly live a full life to our greatest potential


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