There is no doubt that life today moves at a rapid pace, even more so for people trying to: maintain a home, cement family unity, clothe and educate children (at the same time attempting to instill moral values), maintain friendships, meet mortgage repayments, focus on a career, pay bills, keep the tax man happy and engage in some form of healthy lifestyle via exercise and proper nutrition.
In between all that and taking the dog for a walk is an important element that must be met — Rest.

Triangle of Health (TOH) defines rest as a time when mind and body are in a state of peace, calm, tranquility and relaxation ― a period that is vital for human beings to allocate in the pursuit of health, happiness and healing — for optimal mental and physical function.

Rest can come in various forms such as sleep, reduction of work time, meditation, having a holiday and for athletes can encompass taking time off scheduled training sessions.

How much Rest does an Athlete require?

The question of how much rest an athlete requires is often a contentious topic.
TOH believes that each athlete, sporting endeavour and lifestyle is unique and that rest requirements must be addressed accordingly — this may mean more for some less for others.

Variables that affect rest requirement:

  • Exercise.
  • Nutrition.
  • Job.
  • Social activity

Signs and symptoms of rest deficiency:

  • Prolonged ability to recover from illness, injury or training.
  • Chronic exhaustion.
  • Lack of energy and strength.
  • Poor appetite.
  • Weight loss.
  • Decreased enthusiasm (blasé attitude).

(Note: signs and symptoms of rest deficiency may also represent an underlying pathology.)

What are the Benefits of Sleep?

Rest begins with the most important and obvious, sleep – an absolute necessity for human life that can be over looked by athletes as a key component in reaching optimal athletic performance.

What is Sleep? A time of the day when a person must carry out the act of shutting down the conscious mind and body in preparation for rest, recovery and healing.

The imperative nature of sleep for a healthy mind and body coincides with the fact that it assists in maintaining normal metabolic, endocrine and immune system function – helping in the defense against illness and disease .

Sleep can be broken up into two types: a long or main sleep which signals the end of a day allowing an individual to shut down mentally and physically until the next day or a short sleep commonly referred to as a nap.

The amount of sleep that signals the end of a day can vary, some may require eight to ten hours while others can function on four to six. Irrespective of the length of time an individual requires to function properly – unbroken quality sleep is paramount.

What are the Side Effects of Sleep Deprivation?

A lack of and/or poor quality sleep will affect brain function, creating anxiety and decreasing the body’s overall ability to perform effectively. Other consequences of sleep deprivation are: daytime fatigue, sleepiness, impaired memory, and decreased sexual function.

A scheduled or instinctive nap during the day can go a long way in combating sleep deprivation ― via increasing daytime vigilance, mental performance and energy levels.

The length of a nap will come down to the needs of an individual and the ability to allocate time.

Generally a nap can range from 5-50minutes, with a 20 min nap producing improved performance and alertness compared to not having one at all.

TOH believes that regular napping after a training session if permissible, accelerates healing and recovery of both mind and body.

What Increases or Decreases the need for Sleep?

The need for sleep can increase or decrease depending on the state of the body at any given time. The desire to increase sleep duration is generally an indication of fatigue.

Fatigue is a multifaceted issue that can be the symptom of: illness in the form of a simple cold or a sinister pathology such as cancer, energy deficiency due to poor nutrition, a lack of exercise and emotional stress or a side effect from medication just to name a few.

Increased sleep requirements due to exercise can occur due to the following reasons: too much exercise (overtraining) and/or a lack of exercise creating a state of lethargy.

Some drugs in a bid to alleviate conditions or health problems may cause lethargy, creating a false need for sleep.

Just as the body can desire a need for increased sleep, the opposite can also occur.
Generally a decrease in sleep requirement stems from the body functioning efficiently due to increased energy levels stemming from better lifestyle choices (exercise, quality food, etc.).

Another reason all be it a pseudo one is the use of stimulants. Stimulants such as coffee increase short term energy levels creating a false sense of vitality and a decreased need for sleep.

TOH deems that energy derived from long term consumption of natural or synthetic stimulates will eventually cause malfunction of the mind and body. Continuous long term sources of energy should be derived from natural whole foods.


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