Sleep More, Exercise Better

Article | January 2014

Sleep More, Exercise Better

Can more sleep make you faster? When you consider that the central nervous system is a main component of speed, sleep may be the most overlooked aspect of speed training.

You'll begin to notice improvements over the course of your training. You will begin running longer, further and faster. This means your body will be adapting to your exercise routine. But did you know that some of this adapting takes place while you sleep?

While you're asleep, your body uses information from past runs to develop motor learning behavior. How long and fast were your strides? How was your breathing? How were other factors such as temperature, during your better workouts?

Over time, your central nervous system learns what muscles will produce the most efficient movement. This will ultimately lead to you mastering these movements.

Think of when you first started to ride a bike. You may have had difficulty just balancing on two wheels and likely fell at least a few times. After countless hours of trying, you likely went home and eventually went to sleep.

While you were asleep, your mind replayed your actions. It downloaded everything that worked and didn't work while you tried to ride the bike. After a good night's rest (about seven to eight hours for an adult), you set out to ride the bike again. This time, you were ahead of the game. Your body recognized all the pitfalls from yesterday and adapted. You were able to balance without falling and moved on to the next phase of bike riding. Then you had another good night's sleep and repeated the cycle of motor learning.

So prioritize sleep. Catching your zzzs can be important to reaching your health goals.

Man sleeping in bed

The information provided is for educational purposes only. It is not intended as medical advice. Always consult your doctor for appropriate health advice and guidance, including prior to starting a new diet or exercise program.