Importance of Sleep & Recovery

For Good Health & High Performance

In this post, I will be walking you through the different stages of sleep and share a few tips on how deep or REM sleep can help you maintain healthy lifestyle as well as speeding up your recovery when all healthy habits are properly implemented. Our bodies absolutely love rythm. In other words sleep/wake cycle also known as Cyrcadian rythms are found in most living things, including animals, plants and many tiny microbes.

Let‘s first mention hormones released in the brain before, during and after sleep

Growth hormone is essential for growth, tissue repair, and overall physiological development

Antidiuretic hormone (ADH) prevents the production of dilute urine and its levels increase during sleep

Melatonin signals to the body it is time to sleep and releases with increased darkness. It is an antioxidant connected to repairing cells and restoring the body.

Adenosine is a molecule that builds up and makes us sleepy while we’re awake, usually 7-9hrs after our wake-up time due to the brain’s drop in alertness.

Oxytocin is involved in childbirth, lactation and social behaviour and its levels peak after 5hrs of sleep. Levels may influence the content of our dreams

Lastly, it‘s Prolactin is involved in over 300 functions including lactation, metabolism, and immune system regulation and its levels are higher during sleep than in day time.

Other hormones affecting and affected by our sleep are

Cortisol best knows as stress hormone that regulates blood sugar, aids in metabolism and is released daily as a part of our circadian rythm. Its levels peak in the morning and slowly decrease throughout the day & night. This is why it’s not recommended to workout after 7pm as cortisol levels increase during excercise, therefore melatonine gets supressed.

Leptin & Ghrelin these 2 hormones play a major role in appetite regulation and ideally should be well balanced.

Leptin satiety hormone secreted by the adipocytes, and

Ghrelin hunger hormone released primarily from stomach cells, are also influenced by sleep…

When we don’t sleep well or not enough, we experience we are hungrier and it’s harder to feel satiated. This is when we most likely don’t resist so called ‘hedonic eating’ or eating for pleasure. On average this can add up to around 300 more calories intake per day and I don’t think we want that on the journey to become the best version of ourselves, do we?

Well, all I know is, that no-one can decide for us what importance we give it, so I suggest you do what’s best for your personal & health goals, fair play?

I recommend you guys to read or listen to this book: The 5AM Club. Honestly it’s absolutely amazing and truly eye opening if you want to increase your productivity during the day, improve your life and sleep better at night. Through the enchanting story of an entrepreneur, an artist, and their eccentric billionaire mentor, The 5 AM Club (2018) shows how embracing a revolutionary morning routine can deliver epic results. It explains how you can use the first hour of your day to drive personal growth and get the most out of life. Take advantage of a 7-day free trial!

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Let’s compare REM vs. Deep Sleep & see What’s The Difference

Understanding your sleep cycle is the key to better rest. Now more than ever, we can quantify exactly how good or bad our sleep patterns are. Smart beds, sleep trackers and wearables of all sorts help us track our sleep.

Each morning you can review your heart rate, breath rate and sleep graphs with information about how much light, deep and REM sleep you had last nigh.

But all that data only makes sense if you know what you’re aiming for and what it all means. Here’s how to decode your sleep cycles so you can make the most of your shut-eye.

What Are Sleep Cycles?

By now, you probably already know humans sleep in cycles. Each cycle is about 90 minutes long and that sweet spot is when we hit 5 of them, which equals to 7.5-8hrs. The best known is REM, which stands for rapid eye movement, because your eyes move rapidly during this stage of sleep. In general, scientists and researchers divide the cycles into 2 broad categories: non-REM and REM sleep.

I’m going to break down non-REM sleep into 2 further categories that are often used by sleep trackers. I personally use Fitbit tracker, what about, do you have one too?

Let’s start with actual Beginning of Sleep…

As the brain begins to relax and slow down, slower waves known as alpha waves are produced. During this time when you are not quite asleep, you may experience strange and extremely vivid sensations known as hypnagogic hallucinations. Common examples of this phenomenon include feeling like you are falling or in my case it’s either missing a step or a ball flying toward my face, (ha-ha) definitely nothing pleasant right before falling asleep, you know what I’m saying?

Light sleep

It is the beginning of your sleep cycle and your body’s way of winding down. Breathing, heart rate and muscle changes prepare your body for the deeper sleep to come…

Light sleep is broken down into stages 1 and 2.

Stage 1

The first stage is simply the act of transitioning from awake to asleep and makes up less than 5 percent(about 10-15minutes) of your nightly sleep cycles.

Stage 2

Stage 2 is where the light sleep gets to work. People become less aware of their surroundings, body temperature drops and breathing and heart rate become more regular.

Fully asleep, your brain activity slows but includes bursts of electrical activity…

Neuroscience research suggests that these spurts of electrical activity are a crucial part of your brain’s process of transferring information from short- to long-term memory. That’s why many scientists agree that sleeping after studying or learning new material helps you retain information at a higher rate.

Most people spend more time in stage 2 during long periods of sleep than any other stage, and that’s a good thing since it’s such an important part of brain health, promoting mental and physical restoration as well as emotional processing. According to the American Sleep Foundation, people spend approximately 50% of their total sleep in this stage of light sleep.

Deep sleep- stage 3

Is often confused with REM sleep, but the two are actually very different. Deep sleep is the part of your sleep cycle in which your body recovers from the day. Your body secretes growth hormones associated with cellular repair and rebuilding.

When you get enough deep sleep, you wake up feeling refreshed. Without enough, you’ll feel tired even if you got a full night of rest.

Typically, you’ll see deep sleep on your sleep-tracking devices in the first half of your night. It happens in relatively long segments, while your heartbeat and breathing slow to their lowest levels.

This is the stage of sleep where it is most difficult to wake you up and also when sleepwalking tends to occur most often. I can‘t imagine this happening to me, OMG! Do you have any experience with sleepwalking yourself at all? Deep sleep is as important, if not more important, than REM sleep when it comes to physical rest, so keep an eye on this stage if you’re tracking your sleep patterns.

Optimal range for men of my age in early thirties is 12-23% and decreases as we get older.

REM sleep- stage 4

Is perhaps the most famous of the sleep cycles. REM sleep is very interesting and almost the stuff of sci-fi. Most people experience REM sleep around 90 minutes after falling asleep. REM sleep goes even deeper into brain recovery, dreaming and processing memories and emotions. Body becomes relaxed and immobilized. This is the sleep stage in which your eyes move rapidly. If you’ve ever caught your dog or cat in a REM stage, you’ll recognize the darting eyes.

Your brain waves in REM sleep are closer to wakefulness than deep sleep, and your breathing becomes irregular and speeds up. Blood pressure and heart rates also increase to near awake levels in REM sleep. It’s not surprising that with so much near-wakefulness, this stage is when most of your dreaming occurs. Dreams are often weird as neurons are sorting out through all the information they don’t need based on emotional attachment.

Fun Fact is that in REM sleep, your arm and leg muscles are temporarily paralyzed by two chemicals in your brain that prevent you from physically acting out your dreams and punching your partner in the face instead of that alien bad guy that’s relentlessly chasing you…

What’s the Sequence of Sleep Stages?

I don’t know how about you guys, but I pretty much assumed these stages must go nicely in 1 to 4 order.

It is important to realize that sleep does not progress through these stages in this sequence. Sleep begins in stage 1 and progresses into stages 2, and 3…

After stage 3 sleep, stage 2 sleep is repeated before entering REM sleep. Once REM sleep is over, the body usually returns to stage 2 sleep. Sleep cycles through these stages approximately four or five times throughout the night…

Why good night sleep Matters so much and why should you care?

Well, I’m sure you can clearly see and feel the difference on days when you really slept well, right? We are so much more motivated, creative, our brain functions quicker, we’re faster, more disciplined, laser focused, sharper and able to perform at our very best.

On the other hand, when we get in the loop of sleep shortages, it’s like a massive domino effect. We’re lazy, slow, depressed, unhappy, we’re aging at much higher rate and tend to prefer those unhealthy eating habits, why? Because it’s easier, we have no energy and we care less, simple as that…unfortunately, for most!

Let’s talk about main benefits of Deep Sleep

Glucose metabolism in the brain increases during deep sleep, supporting short-term and long-term memory as well as overall learning.

Deep sleep is also when the pituitary gland secretes important hormones, like human growth hormone(HGH), leading to growth and development of our body.

Other benefits of deep sleep include:

  • energy restoration
  • cell regeneration
  • increasing blood supply to muscles
  • promoting growth and repair of tissues and bones
  • strengthening the immune system and brain clean up from its daily waste

How Much Deep Sleep Do We actually Need?

We spend roughly 75% of our night in non-REM sleep and the other 25% in REM sleep. Of this, around 13%-23% of our total sleep is a deep sleep.

That said, deep sleep decreases with age. If you’re under age of 30, you may get two hours of deep sleep each night. If you’re over age of 65, on the other hand, you may only get a half hour of deep sleep each night, or none at all.

There’s no specific requirement for deep sleep, but younger people may need more because it promotes growth and development. Older people still need deep sleep, but not getting as much doesn’t necessarily indicate a sleep disorder.

Let‘s consider this madness

I remember I often used to think about how much more I could get done if I could only function on just 4-5 hrs of sleep as efficiently and consistently as on full recommended 8hrs.

If you‘re like me, always active, busy working on some project, one man show trying to get multiple business of the ground and aspiring athlete, you can imagine why I wished to sleep less without sacrificing my health and relationships…

The book The 4 hour Body by Tim Ferriss, definitely gave me a whole new perspective and made me realize there are options to do this safely, of course if we‘re willing to experiment a little…

Learn some wicked body hacks!

In this book, Tim suggests that there are 2 main ways of sleep and probably 99% of humans would choose or only are aware of the 1st one and that is Monophasic Sleep, where full 8hrs of core sleep is quote & quote „wasted“

2nd one, for me unheard of until I read this book is Polyphasic Sleep.

This way of sleep has 5 different variants to pick from and maybe test it out for yourself.

Let‘s see, so here is „The Siesta“ consisting of one 20 minute nap and 6hrs of core sleep adding up to 6,3 total hours.

Then there is „The Everyman 2“ consisting of two 20 minute naps and 4,5hrs core sleep allowing us to only „waste‘ 5,2 total hours.

Next one is „Everyman 3“ with three 20 minute naps and 3hrs core sleep of total 4hrs of sleep.

Another one is „The Everyman 4“ with four or five 20 minute naps and just 1,5hrs of core sleep.

And the last one is „The Uberman“ consisting of six 20 minute naps and no core sleep at all, how about that?

Though you might find this interesting, because I surely did, although never managed to go further than ‚The Everyman 2“ with 2 naps and 4,5hrs of core sleep and it actually worked for me, for period of my life when I temporarily needed to make certain adjustments…

Why Sleep for Recovery?

Without any question, the brain and central nervous system play the most significant role in optimal physical performance. Every movement emanates from brain CNS(central nervous system) impulses. For an elite athlete, the CNS controls every aspect of performance potential, including function of skills, biomechanical exact movements, the firing sequences of muscles during activity, reflexes and reactions, and countless interrelated physiological functions, including both the central system (heart and lungs), and the peripheral system, our muscles.


The most significant factor in the brain and CNS functioning at an optimal level is that it is well rested. Getting enough quality and quantity of sleep is near the top of the list for athlete recovery strategies.

Minimal sleep (six hours or less) for four days has been shown to affect cognitive thinking function- which is our thinking, mood and weight gain of up to 2lbs just due to sleep deprivation.

All sport requires the ability to process information very quickly and react. Athletes also need to have high levels of focus and motivation. These functions will be impaired without adequate sleep.

Minimal sleep can also decrease glucose metabolism, causing insulin insensitivity by 30%, which fuels the brain and the body for mental and physical performance. Immune function can also be impaired which puts athletes at a greater risk for sickness and injuries.

If an athlete pulls an “all nighter”, speed, power and endurance capacities will decrease. When athletes fail to sleep enough (less than 8 hours per night), the body fails to produce the adequate amount of testosterone. Anabolic activity goes down by 30% due to just 2hrs less sleep a night. An average man can easily gain 14lbs or more just by 1hr sleep shortage itself in a period of 1 year.

Testosterone is a hormone which allows athletes to build muscle and gain training effect from difficult workouts. Muscles are broken down during a workout and with testosterone, are rebuilt larger and stronger. This is why athletes gain muscles when they lift weights or train correctly. This gain in muscle, also called training effect, is decreased without the testosterone to recover from intense physical activity…

Final Thoughts

There’s a common theme in the lives of billionaire entrepreneurs and top performing athletes. They place an incredible amount of importance on their personal health and ability to deliver. Through exercise, diet, strong relationships, and proactive healthy habits, the most influential entrepreneurs understand that they can only deliver extraordinary results when their bodies are able to provide extraordinary output.

You can’t change the world when you’re not running at maximum capacity so make sure to fix your sleep if you often feel drained.

Thanks again for taking time reading this post or listening to Fighterpreneur’s Life podcast and I hope you learned something new or helpful for your personal & professional development, so let me know and stay strong!

I would love to hear back from you, so please shoot me a message at @fighterpreneur on Instagram or Facebook or get in touch here on my blog by commenting below…

Lastly, if you could do me a favor by sharing this post and my podcast with all those that need to read or hear this information, that would be amazing!

Appreciate you guys and DO NOT FORGET to check out my next podcast episode at the bottom of this post, where I talk about Top 5 challenges Aspiring Athletes Face before becoming professionals STAY TUNED for the next episode on Health benefits of cold exposure and breathing techniques so popularized by Wim Hof AKA ‘The Ice Man’!

Take care of yourself ya’ll!