Why Sleep is Important for Reaching Your Goals
You’re working hard towards your fitness goals. You have a vision in sight, and the motivation to get there. You’ve tuned up your diet, built time into your day for exercise, and you’ve made the switch from soda to water. Great! But did you build rest into your routine?
A rest day is the one day of the week when you deliberately don’t work out or push yourself hard. Both awake and asleep, rest is important to your fitness goals because it allows your muscles and cardiovascular system to recover and rebuild. Working hard every day to reach your goals without rest may feel like the most productive path, however, it can actually lead to overtraining and injury. So, what should you do on your day off?
Active Rest Days
If you’re the type of person that can’t sit still on a day off, you might want to consider planning a bit of active rest into your day. This will allow you to “clean” your muscles of any built-up lactic acid and get in tune with your body at a slower pace. Over time, as your fitness improves, you may even be able to incorporate more intense exercise on a rest day, because it will take more work to raise your heart rate. Keep the following in mind on your active rest days:
• Keep the pace low: You should be able to hold a conversation during active rest activities. A very light jog, hike, or bike ride are all great ideas.
• Watch your heart rate: Below 130 BPM is a normal target. Anything above that can trigger hormones to release which are associated with physical stress, canceling out your goal of recovery.
• Do some stretching: A longer, deep stretch session will do a body good, and can even help you get a better night’s sleep. Just one hour of Chill Yoga can do wonders to help you decompress and relax, all while improving your flexibility.
Passive Rest Days and Self-Care
Passive rest is when you don’t pursue any extra physical activity and just allow your body to recover. Passive rest is important because it gives the body time without physical stress, so it can begin the repair process that builds strength and boosts performance. Passive rest can be as simple as watching a movie on the couch, but there are other great ways to spend your downtime:
• Catch some ZZZ’s: Sleep is the body’s ultimate recovery tool. Deep sleep is the most important for recovery. During deep sleep, the body releases growth hormones and triggers a rush of blood to muscles to stimulate cell recovery and restored energy. Getting to bed on time will help you get more deep sleep cycles, promoting faster recovery. Staying up late or only achieving light sleep can leave you feeling tired and more importantly, it can prevent your body from rebuilding after physical stress from your workout efforts. Supportive bedding is key to waking up refreshed instead of sore. Avoid a stiff neck and sore back by using a supportive mattress, and stay asleep longer by keeping your room quiet and cool.
• Do some cooking: If your busy days don’t allow you the time to slow down and cook something, use your rest day to get in the kitchen and have some fun! It will bring your family together around the table and you can also use it as an opportunity to meal prep for the week. This will ensure you have tasty and nutritious meals when you’re busy, instead of relying on your local lunch spot or worse, fast food.
• Practice self-care with a spa day: If you devote time every day to your workout, it’s important to remember that this time every day isn’t just about fitness, it’s about wellbeing. Take care of your mind and body with a relaxing spa day. Treatments for your sore muscles like a Sports Massage or Cupping Therapy will release tension, improve circulation, and promote faster recovery. Studies show that a massage can also help reduce athletic pain and inflammation as much as cryotherapy (ice baths), but a massage sounds much more pleasant. While at the spa, treat your body and mind with a facial or a Glow Body Scrub.
Taking a day to rest every week can prevent injury and boost your energy. Your wellbeing is about more than pushing hard, it’s about taking care of yourself. Giving the body and mind a chance to recover will help you reflect on your progress and give you the motivation to keep up the great work.