If I have not written it here before, some of you have probably heard me say that it’s not in the gym that you make muscles. It seems to go against logic, but it’s true. During training, muscle fibers are destroyed and the central nervous system weakened. It is with active recovery, diet and, most importantly, sleep that the body rebuilds itself stronger and more enduring for the next session.
I give classes and I have clients in a few different places in Montreal. I spend several hours a week in my car. Rather than listening to mattress ads on the radio, I listen to different podcast.
Recently, I came across Trained, a podcast produced by Nike. There are several very interesting interviews with different athletes and artists. This is the one with Dr. Matthew Walker, founder and director of the U.C Berkeley Center for the Science of Human Sleep, that caught my attention.
Here are some points of the episode that I consider important and that we should all know. I obviously recommend that you listen to the podcast when you are caught between two cars on the highway.
Dr. Walker notes, from the beginning, that a person who sleeps five to six hours a night will have a physical exhaustion time decreased from 10% to 30%. He takes the example of runners who train for a 10 km. They will be physically exhausted in the seventh kilometer rather than the tenth for which they trained. He also mentions that the muscle’s ability to exert its maximum strength will also be diminished. In “Bro science”, it means: less biceps at the end of the month.
Alcohol also has several negative points. Like when you remember that in 2012, it was the year you said you would become a drummer and, in 2019, you still have never touched a drum. That’s one of the effects, but it’s not the worst. According to Dr. Walker, alcohol affects the ability to reach a deep sleep. The feeling of tiredness, after a night of drinking, is more attributed to the drinks rather than the lack of sleep.
REM sleep is the moment we dream. It is crucial for many functions, including motor function. Alcohol interferes with this part of sleep and impairs the learning of your motor skills. It becomes more difficult to learn new and more complex movements or to perform those already mastered.
Fatigue, due to lack of sleep, does not come without a lot of caffeine. A coffee in the morning is good. Unless it contains ten ingredients and 1200 calories. The problem with caffeine is that it should not be consumed within twelve to fourteen hours before going to bed. Dr. Walker says that after twelve hours, a quarter of the caffeine we have ingested is still in our system. He gives a very good example. Take a quarter of coffee before going to bed at night. Now, hope to have a good night’s sleep.
He goes on to talk about the effect of lack of sleep on hormones as well as other interesting topics. However, I believe I have noted the most important ones: the elements over which we have control. I highly recommend listening to this episode.
So, the next time you sleep less than eight hours and you are forced out of bed to get a workout in, stay in bed. Put the training later that day and focus on recovery.