Sleep and its importance to the athlete and everyday person

Sleep, why we need it, why it can be hard to get, and how it affects everything from athletic performance to our personal success and heath, is one of the hottest topics in science today.

In 2002 a study at the Scripps Clinic Sleep Center in La Jolla, California compared death rates among more than 1 million American adults. The adults were all a part of a study on cancer prevention and were required to report their average amount of sleep every night. At the time the results of the study from Scripps was surprising, but has since been substantiated by studies in Europe and East Asia.

So How Much Sleep Is Ideal

According to studies people who sleep between 6.5 and 7.5 hours a night live the longest. People who sleep 8 hours or more or less than 6.5 hours have shorter life spans. There seems to be evidence to support that there is just as much risk over sleeping as there is in under-sleeping.

It may be interesting to note that long sleep starts at 8 hours and sleeping 8.5 hours might really be a bit worse than sleeping 5 hours a night.
We can only guess at why people who sleep from 6.5 to 7.5 hours an night live longer, but we don't really know the cause or the effect.

For example we don't know for sure if a person who sleeps less time a night can live longer by extending their sleep and if a longer sleep can live longer by getting up a bit earlier.

One thing to remember as well if you are an athlete or bodybuilder, is that one of the only times we can grow or repair muscle is during certain stages of sleep. For the active trainer, and athlete our sleep is very important to recovery, in fact it is just as important as the workouts themselves.

The Eight-Hour Myth - Dispelled

So based on the studies and information at hand the 8 hours a night myth has been effectively squashed but it stems from an average. It's possible that the amount of sleep we need is determined by our genes and may be why we are either short or long sleepers.

The Long And Short Of It

Our genes may determine the amount of sleep our body requires for us to awaken feeling refreshed and recharged. This likely occurs across a gamut, with "short-sleepers" needing less than average and "long-sleepers" needing more.

Sleep Debt

When we don't get enough sleep to meet our needs, we run into sleep debt. Sleep debt can accumulate. There are a number of signs or things that happen when we are in sleep debt

  • Daytime sleepiness

  • Fatigue

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Poor judgment

  • Increased risk of accidents

  • Other health complications

We might be able to pay off sleep debt by taking naps or by sleeping in (or just going to bed earlier).

In conclusion

Sleep is very important to everyone regardless of whether you are a bodybuilder or regular person, so remember to make sure your body gets the rest it needs!