Josh Renkens, founder of the Renkens Center,is a licensed chiropractor specializing in soft tissue injury. He is certified in Active Release and Muscle Activation Techniques. In addition to his private practice, he works with Vanderbilt and Lipscomb Universities. He believes in an integrated approach utilizing the most effective treatment methods available to decrease pain, promote dynamic function, and improve your ability to perform the activities that most interest you.
Sleep, Regeneration, Recovery
It has been said many times that, “you can’t out train a poor diet.” While this is true, it can also be said that you can’t miss out on sleep and regeneration and expect to reach the performance goals you have set for yourself.
Quality and quantity of sleep is not talked about enough in health and fitness circles. Quality sleep and regeneration is one of the most effective healing processes. Reasons we should take steps to ensure we sleep well and sleep enough include:
1. Poor sleep is linked to increased inflammation in the body – the precursor to chronic disease processes.
2. Lack of sleep increases both insulin and cortisol which leads to decreased insulin sensitivity and fat gain.
3. Sleep deprivation lowers testosterone, DHEA, and growth hormone – all vital hormones involved in muscle and tissue repair.
4. People who do not sleep well are tired, irritable, and less productive.
What are some ways you can increase quality and quantity of sleep?
1. Sleep in complete darkness or as close as possible to it. Even a little light can mess up your body’s production of melatonin and serotonin. There is even some evidence that presence of light in the sleeping environment is a risk factor for some forms of cancer.
2. Minimize the electric fields around your bed. Lowering the amount of EMF will immediately help you sleep better. If you need an alarm clock to wake you up in the morning, use a battery operated one, keep the clock away from your view, and cover it with a towel to diminish the light around it.
3. Stay away from grains and refined sugar snacks before bedtime. Not only do refined grains contain gluten which raises cortisol levels (not a good thing when trying to sleep), but they also raise blood sugar levels which will cause a hypo-glycemic response later.
4. Try a supplement which can help promote relaxation, stress reduction, and sleep. Insomnitol and Magnesium are two supplements that have proven to be very effective in helping a number of people we work with.
5. Stretch in the evening. I have long been an advocate of doing self-myofascial (foam roller, lacrosse ball, etc.) work in the evening to aid in recovery from training. While I am not a proponent of static stretching before training and competition, I do think it has its place. At night before going to bed would be that place. It will help bring down an overactive nervous system leading to increased relaxation, and will probably even help your training as well.
If you have trouble sleeping, give some of these strategies a shot. If you don’t give yourself enough hours to sleep every night, reconsider your priorities. Not only is lack of sleep detrimental to your overall health, but you are missing out on its enhancing effects on regeneration and healing too.