Sleep and It’s Effects on Resistance Training

This article is a recap of information presented by Greg Nuckol’s on “Stronger by Science” link to the original video here

When it comes to getting the proper amount of rest and its effects on resistance training, I don’t think anyone is going to be truly surprised by what research has to say.

Summed up into one sentence, if you get the generally recommend 7-8.5 hours of sleep per night it will reflect positively on your training, and if you start to creep down to the 5-6 hours of sleep per night it will only reflect negatively on your training.

The same can be said for sleep’s impact on your overall cognitive performance as well.

SzatStrength.net Sleeping with a Barbell
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It is good to note, however, that there is a very small percentage of the population around 5% or less who can for lack of a better phrase “sleep fast”.

Essentially these individuals have genes that allow them to move through the cycles of sleep faster and they can be fully rested with as short as 4-5 hours in the dark. For the rest of us 95% we are not so lucky. You cannot “train” yourself to be good at getting shut-eye.

You either have the genes or you don’t. So, for those of you who are cutting your sleep short in a desperate attempt to adapt to shorter and shorter sleep cycles I can confirm that you can stop now. Your body is not suddenly going to start functioning properly on 5 hours.

The Solution

YOU NEED TO GET TO BED.

In addition to this Greg discusses that those who aren’t currently getting enough sleep may not even be able to tell how negatively it’s impacting them.

In a study where individuals were both ranking themselves on how they believe their cognitive performance was AND they were actually being tested for their overall performance, the individuals correctly guessed that their performance had decreased after 24 hours on 5-6 hours.

However, for the rest of the week, they ranked their performance as not decreasing from that first day, whereas the objective performance tests showed their performance was linearly decreasing with each day of limited sleep. So you could confidently be sitting there saying “well I only get 6 hours of rest per day and I’m doing just fine”…

Are you really though?

No Surprises Here

So, no surprises here. Get enough sleep and all will be well, start depriving yourself of the proper amount of rest and not so much.

What about getting “too much” time under the covers? What about mental training and preparation?

Admittedly this is an area that still needs more study, but here are the preliminary ideas.

Traditionally, getting too much sleep was being looked at as potentially negative for overall health and well-being. This was due to data showing that long hours of sleep were associated with individuals who were unhealthy, or diseased.

However, more researcher’s including Greg is looking at this as being a case of correlation not equaling causation. Basically, these individuals who are unhealthy or do have long term disease do sleep for longer hours of the day. However, it is not because of the long hours of sleep that these individuals became an unhealthy or developed disease in the first place.

Remember this fundamental of research “correlation does not equal causation”. Just because two things are associated with one another, does not necessarily mean that one is causing the other.

9 to 10 Hours of Sleep vs. 7 to 8 Hours of Sleep: The Basketball Player Study

While the area of resistance training and long hours of sleep are lacking Greg investigated a study conducted on basketball players who slept for 9-10 hours vs. sleeping for the normal 7-8.

They tested the player’s performance on short sprint’s and the data showed a dramatic increase in performance when players were allotted 9-10 hours of sleep. Sprint times decreased around 5-8% the original time’s and while that may seem insignificant, considering these were shorts sprints being tested the performance increase between the two is substantial.

Important to note here is, again, this isn’t resistance training being tested, and much more research needs to be conducted. However, if you have the ability to get the extra hour or two of sleep above the normal 7-8 hours, it could potentially increase performance.

You Make The Call

Here’s the deal: Just get your sleep gang. Nothing good comes with less than the normal 7-8.5 hours of sleep, and on top of that, you 100% cannot “train” yourself to sleep less.

I don’t believe this information is surprising to anyone yet all of us still struggle to get those required hours of sleep in. Make it a priority in your life, get the proper amount of sleep every day, and you should find that your performance will pick up in all other areas of your life.

Links to the research discussed

Matt Molloy
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Matt Molloy

I'm a graduate the University of Pittsburgh with a major in Exercise Science. I’m a local guy (North Penn) and athletics has dominated my life. I've led teams in basketball, baseball, soccer, golf and my passion, long distance running. I've been strength training for 6 years with a focus in power-lifting but have recently stretched to strongman since joining the pride here at the Den. When I’m not in the gym I enjoy, spending time with my friends, music, and relaxing and playing some video games.