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The Sleeping Warrior

By Phoenix Carnevale

Fighters are obsessive. Especially after hard training sessions. We commit movie magic in our mind. Recreating the scene of the day’s works. Relieving the moments we can remember of that last sparring sessions. Trying to record in our minds each error so we can fix it, readjust and learn. We know a good fighter learns from every sparring session... We know a martial artist or boxer is always working on their technique. Now if you train in the fighting arts you already know the value of hard work. But how important is the value of rest as a companion to that hard work? Science says EXTREMELY. Especially for extreme athletes.

Sleep and Performance

Lack of sleeps a pretty vicious opponent, hitting you with left hooks to the immune system, body shots of depression, jabs of hormones imbalances, clinching you up with aching muscles, lose of appetite, fainting, hallucinations and slow reaction time. Sounds like a “knockout” to me. Pardon the pun. Sounds like even worse than what your worse opponent can do to you.

Science has even proved that athletes need more sleep that the average Joe. We have more muscles fatigue and more activity. Not having adequate rest periods can lead to a condition called overtraining syndrome - a difficult condition to recover from. And that can really set back your goals. Nobody wants to have a ‘syndrome’.

I’m sure you’ve felt the difference in the gym after a good nights sleep. Another advantage of sleep is also the performance of another important tool in your fighters arsenal, maybe even the most important one…your mind.

Sleep and Mental Performance

When you are a sleep you brain begins filing all the important information it’s learned throughout the day. It even helps make memories stronger and weeds out irrelevant details and background information so that only the important information remains. Information like maybe you keep dropping your left hand or vital information your coaches is teaching you about you stance or opponents habits.

The brain evolved to use light and darkness by acquiring information in the daytime and processing it at night. This makes sleeping key to learning and learning helps us evolve as athletes.

A team of researchers from the University of California and Stanford University found that sleep-restricted rats had a harder time remembering a path through a maze compared to their rested counterparts. And unlike the rats that got enough sleep, the sleep-restricted rats showed reduced survival rate of new hippocampus (responsible for memory) cells. Sleep plays a part in helping those new brain cells survive.

Sleep deprivation can be torture…quite literally. Its been known to be used as an interrogation technique by the Soviet Union, or by the US on Guantanamo-held prisoners. Interrogation victims are kept awake for several days; when they are finally allowed to fall asleep, they are suddenly awakened and questioned. Sounds like torture to me! I complain about my alarm clock!

Martial artist must remember the importance of Balance. And with hard work must be a considerable amount of rest to repair. If your cell phone is on its last bar…we’ll you will be putting it on the charger if you plan to make a call. So if you plan to fight a battle…better recharge your mental and physically batteries. I decided to write this article to well…put to bed (so to speak) this theory of “you’ll sleep when you’re dead”. It’s more like “you’ll be dead if you don’t sleep”. So fight hard warriors and dream big. The victories and conquest created by all our hard work is the stuff our dreams are made of so sleep on it. I wish you sweet dreams.

Acknowledgement : This article originally appeared on

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About The Author:

Phoenix Carnevale is a NYC based fitness expert. Certified under the NASM she's worked with everyone from the couch potatoes, the amateur athlete, a mother to be or the stressed out executive. She's been featured on CBS, NBC, CW11, Spike tv, Lifetime and American Latino to name a few. She is a contributor for Shape Magazine and is Latina Magazines residential fitness expert. She also writes for She can also be seen hosting and producing a popular Martial Arts podcast Called “Inside Martial Arts” available on Itunes. Phoenix studied Seido Karate, Boxing at Gleasons gym and recently started Muy Thai at The Wat in NYC.

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martial arts health, martial arts training, sleep and the martial arts

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