Blast From the Past: Is There Truth to Your Old Coach Saying “Rest Up”?

The phrase “rest up” resonates with me in a few different ways. Letting your body rest and recover is important for many different reasons. Even though sleeping is essential to your survival, there are still many questions surrounding the subject.


How much sleep do you really need? Do athletes need to log more hours of sleep than those who are less active? How much do you need if you’re recovering from an injury? In this post, I’m going to explore the idea of “resting up” and what that might mean in different scenarios.


How Many ZZZ’s? The importance of regular, restful sleep can’t be overstated. Without enough sleep your whole body suffers. Sleep deprivation causes memory impairment, inability to concentrate, poor balance, and high blood pressure.


There’s a lot of discussion around how much sleep is the right amount. I’ve seen sources that claim that 6 hours in enough for some and other places that recommend 9 hours or more. Sleep needs are different for everyone, but I recommend that you try to get a solid 7 to 8 hours of restful sleep every night.


Athlete, Nap-lete. It’s well-known that athletes need to consume more calories due to increased activity levels, but they also need more rest! During training, athletes need to sleep about one hour longer than the average person to give their body time to recover. This additional time to rest and recover can be at night or in the form of a nap during the day. In addition, the night before a big game or race, you should try to get 10 hours of sleep or more.


Sleep It Off. Sleep is an essential part of injury recovery as well. I prescribe the RICE method as the first line treatment for most musculoskeletal injuries. RICE stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Pain is your body’s way of saying “Stop! It’s time to rest.” That’s exactly why this is the first step in the RICE method.


Extra shut eye is great for recovery, but where and how you rest is important, too. Make sure you are sleeping in a position that doesn’t aggravate your injury. As the “E” in RICE suggests, you should sleep with your injury elevated to reduce swelling. Consider it another meaning to resting UP!


Icing your injury is good for reducing swelling as well, but not while you’re sleeping. As I’ve learned through personal experience, you can get frostbite if you ice the injury for too long! The best way I’ve found is to ice the affected area for 20 minute intervals with 20 minute breaks in between.


Lastly, if you choose to use a compression bandage while sleeping make sure it isn’t bound so tight that it disrupts the natural blood flow. Follow these steps, and you’ll be well on your way to a restful recovery.


Rest for a Balanced Life. It’s important, no matter what your level of athleticism, to give your body the time it needs to recover. Work hard, play hard, and rest up!


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