In addition to workouts/exercise and eating healthy, SLEEP plays a major role in athletic performance and competitive results. Getting enough sleep is CRUCIAL to athletes and possibly the most important part of training! Exercise depletes energy, fluids, and breaks down muscle. When you do this day-to-day consistent sleep is a necessity. Research shows that it is deep sleep that helps improve athletic performance because this is the time when growth hormone is released. Growth Hormone: • Stimulates muscle growth and repair • Helps with bone building and fat burning • Helps athletes recover from intense workouts Sleep deprivation increases cortisol (the stress hormone) and SLOWS the release of growth hormone. Increased cortisol can lead to slow healing, increase the risk of injury and worsen memory. Less sleep increases the chance of fatigue, low energy, less focus, worsens decision making, reflexes and recovery. Most people and athletes underestimate the importance of sleep! So how much sleep do you need? According to the National Sleep Foundation, most people need about 7-9 hours of sleep a night but athletes need MORE. All the stress of grueling day to day workouts require at least an hour extra of sleep a night. So make sleep a priority with all your fitness and health goals! Go to bed earlier and wake up at the same time every day. Take a daily nap too if you find you are not getting enough sleep! Whether you are an elite competitive athlete or just working out to stay healthy and get in shape getting the proper amount of sleep is a necessary tool on the road to good health!