Mention Testosterone and Human Growth Hormone (HGH) to a group of sports-minded folks and their mind jumps to the illegal use of performance-enhancing drugs. In fact, according to the book Game of Shadows, these two drugs were prominent in the cocktail that Barry Bonds was taking when he smashed baseball’s single-season home run record. While these drugs are often associated with things like muscle growth, what they allowed Bonds (and others) to do is to recover faster, so that they could bounce back and train (or compete) again and again and again without much downtime.
Mention legal recovery products to a group of motivated athletes and they might start rattling off ice baths, foam rollers, protein shakes, cryosaunas, and a slew of other gadgets and gizmos that are supposed to make us feel better after we work out hard. If there’s one thing that has exploded in the last decade in the sporting world, it’s the marketing of recovery products, many of which simply do not work.
On our search for the holy grail of recovery, what if I told you that there was a way to get the natural effects of our recovery hormones, without a costly gadget or gimmick? You might question my sanity or ask me if I’m pushing some pseudo-scientific supplement.
No, what I’m talking about is not taking a pill: it’s going to sleep.
Your body naturally produces its highest levels of these two important recovery and growth-related hormones when you sleep. If you restrict sleep, then your body won’t provide the nice bump of testosterone or HGH that it so desperately needs. Instead, you’ll be left with a much smaller hit of these recovery hormones.
Sleep is a time of repair, recovery, growth, and learning. It’s when our body goes to work assessing the damage that’s been done and trying to restore your body so that it’s in a better place to take on the next days challenge. It’s when our brain consolidates memories, helping us to cement our experiences and learnings into our brain.
Sleep is the ultimate performance enhancer.
So next time you think about skipping a couple of hours of sleep, ask yourself if it’s worth forgoing your bodies natural performance-enhancing drugs?