If you think about it, sleep takes up roughly 1/3rd of our lives, yet we completely overlook its importance.
For optimal health and performance, we can’t over-prioritise nutrition and exercise and exclude sleep. The combination of the three have been coined as the three pillars of health and performance, without one, they can’t support another and the whole house falls down.
For the athlete, we know that you’re 1.7x more likely to get injured if you sleep <8 hours per night. Likewise, you’re 4-5x more likely to get a cold when you sleep <6 hours with <92% sleep efficiency.
We also know that athletes typically get less sleep per night Vs general population, where it’s reported that they get between 6.6-6.8 hours per night on average. This could be due to early start times, late finishes, being stressed and can’t switch off, young families or swiping right late at night.
Sleep deprivation causes dysfunctions to the neurocognitive, metabolic, immunologic and cardiovascular systems. In return can impact running performance, strength, reaction time, mood/vigour, skill level and accuracy…I.e. will make you worse at your sport.
Think about it, you train super hard to get better, when something as simple as sleep (for most) can massively impair your ability to perform at your best. Interestingly, these negatives happen with just 2-4 hours less sleep per night.
Therefore, the goal is to improve sleep in the following three areas;
1) Sleep latency (time taken to fall asleep)
2) Sleep efficiency (sleep quality)
3) Sleep duration
Research would suggest that trying to increase sleep duration to 9 hours for athletes, and that ‘banking sleep’ either the night before or after via napping can negate some of the negatives associated with deprivation.
I’ll be posting more in due course regarding the specific tactics we can take to improve the aformentioned 3 areas, but for now, just focus on prioriting sleep and not thinking that you’re ‘big time and more resilient’ by only getting 5 hours per night.
You’re not, so get some sleep.
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