Did you know?
While you’re sleeping, your immune system releases cytokines. If you’re sick or injured, these cytokines help your body fight inflammation, infection and trauma.
In our efficiency-obsessed culture, it’s not uncommon to hear a friend or coworker boast that they’re running on minimal rest because ‘sleep is for the weak’. In some circles, surviving on just a few hours of sleep is almost desirable—a mark that one has mastered the principle of ‘mind over matter’ and become a caffeine-guzzling, biology-defying productivity machine.
One of the most common misconceptions is that sleeping is a passive process. It’s understandable that people believe this, given that sleep generally feels like ‘shutting off’ for the night. However, sleep is an active time of healing and recovery. When we’re sleeping, the body consolidates memory, repairs the nervous system, and generates muscle and soft tissue. This is especially important for those pursuing fitness goals or recovering from an injury.
When you enter deep sleep, your body releases human growth hormone and melatonin, which are critical for tissue recovery. The production of these hormones are the highest during periods of undisturbed deep sleep. Just 24 hours of sleep deprivation can slow recovery to 72% of its normal rate. 48 hours of sleep deprivation? You’re looking at a 42% recovery rate.
That said, keep in mind that getting quality sleep is not just about how many hours you put in. For proper muscle growth and healing to take place, you must sleep on a surface that supports your skeletal system and keeps your spine in a neutral position.
Even with a great exercise routine, key muscle groups can suffer stress and eventual chronic injury from an unsupportive sleep surface. The same way poor posture in your waking hours can lead to joint and disc generation, sleeping with a skewed spine can cause repetitive stress injuries over time.