Thursday, October 13, 2011

The importance of rest

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I'm pleased to report an excellent night's sleep. I'm not so pleased to report that I slept through the alarm and missed training. Two days in a row. :( I'm looking at it in a positive light though - I figure I must have needed the extra sleep. I do feel quite human tonight - which is a nice change from feeling decidedly stabby last night. That's S.T.A.B.B.Y., not S.H.A.B.B.Y.

I know how important sleep is and how quickly life can descend into a nasty downward spiral of negative emotions when you don't get enough. Which leads me onto a related topic....

It seems that rest and sleep are seriously underrated, generally. Most of us seem to think we can cram in everything we need to do, if we just shave a bit of time off our sleep or rest quota. That can be a dangerous thing though. Sleep deprivation leads to all sorts of problems, including slower reaction times (not so good when driving, for a start) poor concentration, memory lapses and mood swings.

In athletes - and I include those of us who train pretty hard and regularly - there's a whole other range of problems. Ever heard of overtraining syndrome? Symptoms can include:

- Feeling washed out or drained of energy
- DOMS or other aches and ains that just don't go away
- Insomnia
- Decrease in athletic performance
- Loss of appetite
- Moodiness
- New or recurrence of injuries
- a compulsion to exercise

I've had a few clients suffer the effects of overtraining, and yet they fail to see how it applies to them, because they "always train this hard" or "have trained way more than this in the past". They simply don't understand that it's not so much about the training, but about the lack of rest, recovery and/or sleep.

The standard prescription for the early stages of this problem is two or three days of total rest. If I can actually get them to listen to me, it's amazing how suddenly their mood improves, their mind clears and they feel full of energy and are raring to go again.

Have you ever struggled with either sleep deprivation or overtraining, and how did it affect you?

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