How Maximizing Your Rest and Recovery Can Boost Your Health

Laurie Larson

Thereís nothing more disappointing that feeling like youíre maximizing your inputs on your workout routine and seeing little to no progress in return.

When this happens, itís easy to get discouraged. Especially for those who havenít seen much progress in a long time. Hitting a spot where you feel stagnant can make you want to throw in the towel, but before you do, take some time to re-evaluate your lifestyle and consider what could be holding you back.

Are you staying regularly hydrated? Are you eating well? These are both important factors in a workout routine or weight loss plan. Thereís another important one that might not be as obvious: your sleep.

What does your sleep have to do with your workouts?

Proper rest and recovery is a vital component of a fitness routine. When youíre driven towards reaching certain goals, slowing down and taking time to rest may seem counterintuitive. However, without focusing on your R&R period as part of your routine, you wonít be likely to continue seeing fast-paced progress.

Recovery periods allow for your muscles and tissues to repair and then strengthen. Part of this includes making sure you achieve restful sleep each night. While you sleep at night, your body produces Growth Hormone. This hormone plays a major role in repairing and growing your tissues.

Another important role in a recovery routine means taking breaks. Achieving full muscle repair can take as long as a full day or even two, so you should be sure to alternate which muscle groups youíre working out and take it seriously. When you allow time for proper recovery, it can help your training be more effective and improve your overall performance.

To maximize your R&R periods for the best results, youíll need to make sure youíre doing everything possible to allow your body to make the most of its rest periods. Hereís how you can make that happen.

Stay hydrated

When youíre regularly working out, youíre more prone to experiencing dehydration. Loading up with plenty of water before and during your workouts is critical to keeping your body in itís best shape, but itís also important to make sure youíre staying hydrated after your workouts. After depleting your body from water while you sweat, youíll need to restore your hydration. Without being properly hydrated, you may experience difficulties getting quality sleep at night.

In order to get great nights of sleep, our bodies require a drop in our core body temperature. When youíre dehydrated, this isnít easy to do. Dehydration also increases your heart rate, making it more difficult for you to relax and fall asleep. Staying hydrated is properly near the top of your mind during your workouts. Donít let it fall away once youíre finished.

Create a wind down routine

In the long term, your exercise routine may help you lower stress and your resting heart rate, but the immediate effects of working out that rev your body up canít be ignored. The more high energy and full of cortisol you are, the less likely you are to easily get sleep at night.

When you implement a wind down routine into your evenings, you help signal to your mind and body that itís time for rest. Relaxing in the evenings prior to bedtime can also help you achieve deeper sleep. Experiencing deep sleep is critical to your recovery. Stages 3 and 4 of non-REM sleep are the most important times when your muscles have the chance to recover. To give you your best shot at falling asleep easily and getting deep, quality rest, learn some of the main component of a wind down routine.

First off, youíll want to start early. In the last hour or two before your bedtime, turn off your technology. This includes, smartphones, TVs, or any other devices emitting a stimulating blue light. Staying away from artificial light sources will signal to your body that itís time to start producing melatonin, the hormone controlling our sleep/wake cycles.

Now that your bodyís got the signal, do whatever you need to help your body relax. This could include stretching, taking a warm bath, reading a book, using essential oils, or anything else that helps you relax. Your wind down routine is personal to you, so itís important that you schedule your evenings in the best way that works for you.

Rest easy

If youíre not sleeping comfortably, your sleep could be causing you additional pain instead of letting you heal. If youíre sleeping on an old, saggy mattress or sleeping in an improper sleeping position, your body could be suffering. Licensed chiropractor Dr. Dominique explains, "Sleeping on a mattress of poor quality will continue to cause joint breakdown and irritation long term. Prolonged inflammation of the joints speeds up the degenerative process."

To avoid these pains, make sure youíre able to rest comfortably on the right mattress for you each night. Donít know what to look for? Try to pick out the important qualities like pressure relief, spinal alignment, responsiveness, and durability.

In terms of your sleeping position, avoid any position that puts stress on your neck, back, or other pressure points. If youíre sleeping on your stomach, itís time to learn to try out a different position as stomach sleeping puts a lot of strain on your spine and lower back. And while the fetal position may seem comfortable, curling up too much end up putting stress on your joints as well. Sleep safe and stretch out on your back for your best chance at a comfortable night of sleep.

By following these tips, you should be able to maximize your rest periods and make the most of your recovery. Continue to stress importance on your healing periods, and youíll be able to see more success in your performance.