Sleep is the foundational element of the recovery process. Apart from feeling lethargic and/or groggy the next day, improper sleep quality can also negatively affect muscle recovery and repair, increasing the likelihood of injury and decreasing overall performance quality. While a lot of us know that quality sleep is imperative to our wellbeing, not many of us are equipped with the tools to action it.
“Sleep is this incredible period of our lives where we are not conscious. We might dream, we might twitch, but in sleep, we are only in relation to things that are happening within our brain and body. It resets our ability to be focused, alert and emotionally stable in the wakeful period”. Firstly let's understand the two primary stages of sleep.
REM Sleep, or Rapid Eye Movement Sleep: Occurs in cycles of approximately 90-120 minutes. While a 24 hour period is known as a circadian cycle, these 90 minute cycles are referred to as ultradian cycles. REM sleep is believed to comprise approximately 25% of our total sleep time and dominates the later portion of the sleep period, primarily supporting energy production, neurological functions and emotional regulation.
Non-REM Sleep: Also known as deep sleep, plays a more crucial role in our physiological recovery, and particularly, muscle recovery. It is during this phase that our brain is resting with very little activity, dropping our blood pressure, heart rate, and slowing down our breathing. Considering the brain monopolises so much of the body’s resources during the waking period (almost 20%), Non-REM sleep allows for the redistribution of blood supply to the muscles, delivering extra amounts of oxygen and nutrients and promoting healing and synthesis. This period of sleep also stimulates the release of hormones from the pituitary gland, and specifically, Growth Hormone, which stimulates tissue growth and muscle repair.
Deficiencies in sleep, or frequently disturbed sleep, reduce the quality of deep sleep achieved throughout the night. The experience of waking up groggy after tossing and turning all night, having struggled to get into deep sleep, is almost universal. This is because the rejuvenating effects of sleep are not only determined by the quantity, but also by the quality. Studies indicate that most of us, if not always, at some period of our lives, will struggle with achieving quality sleep.
Building good behavioural foundations to improve sleep.
- Use lower light inside your home in the evening.
- Reducing screen time.
- Limiting caffeine intake.
- Exercising & Stretching.
- No screen time in bed.
- Avoid eating late at night. Have an earlier dinner.
- Make time for chill time.
How Magnesium improves Sleep and Recovery?
Supplementation with magnesium is a great natural option for improving access and control to better sleep. It has been clinically established in both human and animal studies that magnesium deficiencies are often an underlying cause of troubled sleep and even insomnia. This is because magnesium is inextricably tethered to multiple pathways that are responsible for promoting restfulness.
Magnesium also supports the production of the infamous sleep hormone Melatonin, which fundamentally underpins the sleep-wake cycle in the body. Its production naturally increases in the evening as our eyes input data about the surrounding darkness, which activates the parasympathetic nervous systems ‘rest and digest’ mechanism. However, extended exposure to artificial light through our phones and computers, as well as overhead lights can have deleterious effects on Melatonin release and causes disruptions to our circadian rhythm and sleep quality. We cannot talk about performance without talking about recovery. Magnesium plays an integral role in the support of sleep quality and quantity by addressing the time it takes to fall asleep, the quality of our sleep, and addressing disturbance factors such as muscle twitching/cramping.