If sleep is important to everyone for optimal health, then it’s even more crucial for athletes and fitness enthusiasts. Athletes and fitness buffs undergo rigorous training and routines thus they are more prone to injury and muscle strain. One essential factor in rapid recovery is getting enough sleep, and this article will help explain its significance.

The Function Of Sleep During Recovery

So, what is exactly the function of sleep during recovery and why is it important?

The answer is pretty simple: sleep allows muscles extra time to heal and repair. During the third stage of NREM sleep (non-rapid eye movement), growth hormones which are an anabolic type of hormone, provide assistance to damaged tissues in mending themselves. Longer periods of sleep mean the human body has sufficient time for the muscle tissues to restore and develop.

Exercise is healthy and it has benefits. However, it puts a lot of stress on the body and over the course of post-workout recovery between exercises, recovery is the part wherein the body undergoes changes which is an effect of the physical activity.

Furthermore, to guarantee that you will actually get the most out of a workout, quality sleep is a crucial factor in post-exercise recovery. Read more about the reasons why sleep is essential to recovery plus ways in which one can get quality sleep and better recuperation times.

What Happens When The Body Is Deprived Of Sleep?

We have explained earlier that muscle and tissue repair happens over the course of sleep. To further expound on this concept, we will discuss the goings-on within the body when one lacks restful hours in bed.

Lack of sleep can harm the body and the mind. For starters, it is linked to health conditions like high blood pressure, heart failure, stroke and diabetes. It also weakens the immune system, can cause weight gain, depression, and a decrease in one’s sex drive.

Quality sleep is encouraged particularly for athletes. Healthy adults need to get at least 7 1/2 hours of sleep each day. If you are an athlete or undergo rigorous fitness routines, you need at least an extra hour of sleep or more.

According to Cheri Mah from the Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic and Research Lab, athletic performance suffers because of built-up sleep debt. Sleep debt influences an athlete’s cognitive function, reaction time and moods. It can be taken care of right away by focusing on quality sleep to reduce sleep debt.

The Benefits Of Sleeping For Faster Recovery

Sleeping not only makes one feel good upon waking up in the morning. It not only makes for a healthier body, but for athletes and fitness buffs, quality sleep provides advantages that benefit post-exercise recovery.

1. Muscle coordination improves with quality sleep.

Whenever we apply our workout routines, the brain actually retains those actions. New exercises are recorded in the memory part inside the brain, and during sleep, the brain gets enough time to produce muscle memory. The next time you undergo those exercises, you will notice that you can do those movements with better, fluid movements. You can only get this improved coordination if you get sufficient hours of sleep.

2. Sleep keeps sickness at bay.

During sleep, the body generates molecules called cytokines. These cytokines assist the immune system in combating infections. Thus, sufficient sleep is important for recovery. Depriving yourself of sleep will also have a negative effect on preventative health measures.

3. Sleeping improves response time.

Peak performance during athletic matches or exercise routines involves a quality snooze. Enough hours in the sack helps restore response time and allow for better cognitive functions, too. One study even explains the results of quality sleep to the accurate serves of tennis players.

4. Sleep improves the mood.

The brain is quite busy when you sleep and during this phase, it processes human emotions. Sleeping actually allows the brain to further identify the emotions and react in a more proper manner. Thus, a lack of sleep leads to emotional reactions that are more on the negative side than positive. It also means insufficient sleep also brings higher risks of irritability, depression and anxiety.

5. Sleep influences overall health.

Sleep is important for recovery since better recovery translates to good health and wellbeing. Exercise is not actually enough to promote health – sufficient sleep is also responsible for preventing various diseases from high blood pressure to cardiac diseases. If you want excellent performance during fitness routines and athletic matches, your health needs to be on a high at all times hence you have to make sure you are getting enough sleep at night.

Methods For Quick Recovery Times

The goal of a good recovery strategy is to minimize the span of time it takes for the body to restore and revitalize itself. There are several methods that athletes and fitness enthusiasts take advantage of to further recovery and they are the following:

1. Foam Rollers and Massage Guns

Using foam rollers and massage guns helps loosen the fascia which in turn, lets the muscles glide properly and effortlessly. Massage guns, once used correctly, also help promote better sleep since it relaxes the muscles and eases aches and pains. Foam rollers meanwhile are great for active recovery since they are designed to enable the repair of tissues.

2. Yoga and Mindfulness

Want to reduce your sleep debt and at the same time, promote quicker recovery periods? You can try your hand at yoga. Yoga and meditation practices offer a handful of benefits for athletes and active folks. It relaxes the mind and body plus it also helps you retain energy and improve focus.

3. Active Recovery

Active recovery refers to carrying on with exercise movements for a few extra minutes but at reduced intensities. It lets the body release accumulated lactic acid bit by bit to reduce stiffness after workouts and it also improves blood circulation to the muscles and joints. Active recovery also boosts endurance.

4. Stretching Exercises

Stretching should be done before a workout or training since it improves blood flow, reduces chances of injury and soreness. Give yourself 10 to 15 minutes of stretching exercises at the least before diving into your routine.

5. Sleep/Rest

The human body needs to take a break and you must listen to it. Sleep should never be an indulgence – it should be your responsibility for exceptional physical performance.

Massage Guns For Better Sleep – A Must Try?

The massage gun is a device now endorsed by many athletes and fitness buffs since it is quite handy for better, faster recovery times. It offers many benefits thus it has become a regular item in many gyms and gym bags. Fitness experts and professional athletes use the device to manage muscle therapy and speed up the recovery process.

Massage guns are known for easing aches and pains plus they also help improve blood flow. The device guarantees warmed-up muscles, prevents DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) and improves receptiveness after rigorous training routines.

The massage gun also helps one destress thus it’s good to use if you want to improve sleep quality. Using light, gentle pressure activates the parasympathetic nervous system of the body, thus the body can relax before snoozing.

How To Use A Massage Gun To Relax And Sleep Better

Proper use of a massage gun can help you sleep well. Just follow these easy steps:

  1. Using light pressure, begin on the trapezius muscle.
  2. Allow the device to work on the area no more than 30 to 60 seconds.
  3. Continue by doing the arms.
  4. Work on the lower back next.
  5. Focus on the quads and hamstrings.

You can also use the massage gun on other areas in the body that feel tense and tight like the calf muscles, the quadricep muscles, the gluteus maximus and the pectoralis major. You can also perform breathing techniques to further boost parasympathetic nervous system activity.


There is a good reason why sleep is recommended by all medical professionals when it comes to recovery. Your body at rest is an essential investment in better health and faster recuperation from intense workouts and injury.

Related Questions

1. How to avoid overtraining and recover fast?

Avoid overtraining by giving yourself lots of time to rest and sleep. Drink water before and after training, refuel by getting a balanced amount of carbs and protein, do some stretches before workouts and get into yoga and meditation. You can also try using a massage gun to ease pain and speed up recovery.

2. How does remedial massage relate to recovery?

Remedial massage goes hand in hand with recovery since this practice involves tackling both surface and deep tissue layers to improve the condition of the muscles which in turn, helps make for rapid recovery.

3. How to recover after a good run?

Faster recovery following intense running routines involves stretches before physical activities, eating heavier protein meals following training, constant hydration, plus ample rest and sleep. Using a massage gun can also make for faster recovery times and helps lessen aches and pains.

Emma Pyke
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