For most of us we are right in the middle of the triathlon race season, with training in full swing and a lot of competing going on. For those of us not racing at the moment, itâ€™s still a critical time where we can get some good warm weather training in â€“ bike miles are much more enjoyable when we have some sunshine to go out in!
Some of you might be following an online coaching plan, or will have structured something with a club coach, or may even have your own coach setting your training for you to get the most out of yourself each week. Regardless of how many hours you are training (or working!) and the intensity of the sessions you are doing, it is essential to get quality rest to allow your body to heal, recover, and come back stronger. During deep sleep, your blood pressure drops and your breathing becomes deeper and slower, and as your brain is resting with very little activity the blood supply available to your muscles increases, delivering extra amounts of oxygen and nutrients which facilitate their healing and growth. Muscles and tissues are rejuvenated and new cells are regenerated during this phase of sleep.
Your brain triggers the release of a shot of growth hormone that stimulates tissue growth and muscle repair. Lack of sleep and changes in sleep quality cause a sharp decline in growth hormone secretion. Growth hormone deficiency is associated with increased obesity, loss of muscle mass and reduced exercise capacity. Your muscles require additional sleep and recovery time after intense strength and endurance training, illness, injury and surgery.
So how much do we need??
The average night is supposed to be eight hours of sleep. In an ideal world we could all achieve this, but in reality with work and family commitments itâ€™s not always possible! One missed night will probably not do you too much harm, but repeated poor sleep can have a detrimental effect on your muscle tissues and therefore your training ability! You have been warned!
So, crack out the Horlicks, take some quiet time with a book or your favourite triathlon magazine, and prepare for a quality nightâ€™s sleep.. your body will thank you for it!