The importance of good sleep
SLEEP – WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR?
Ok so I am always telling my athletes sleep is as important as training. However, to get some proof, I looked up the sleepfoundation.org site and pinched a quote from boffins much smarter than me.
“Some research suggests that sleep deprivation increases levels of stress hormone, cortisol. Sleep deprivation has also been seen to decrease production of glycogen and carbohydrates that are stored for energy use during physical activity. In short, less sleep increases the possibility of fatigue, low energy, and poor focus at game time. It may also slow recovery post-game”
So simply put – if we are not sleeping well – we are not allowing the body time to recover/adapt from all the (hopefully) quality training/nutrition we are putting it through.
WHAT???? My performances could suffer ….suddenly – I had the triathletes attention….
OK – SOLD ON THE MERITS – HOW DO I IMPROVE MY SLEEP?
As is the best formulaic approach to a nicely written blog – best to break things down into some easily digestible DOs and DONTs
Disclaimer: This is where I ended my “extensive” academic research on the topic and fall back onto some 20 years of experience (if you will excuse the humblebrag) and the rest of the article is primarily anecdotal
That said – suspend your disbelief and read on – you might just pick up a nugget of useful information!
- DONT: Plan/attempt to retire for the evening too soon after a training session – as your heart rate/endorphins will likely still be elevated and result in you staring at the ceiling. Make sure there is a little unwinding time when you watch TV, prepare for tomorrow, chat with family/friends
- DO: Avoid caffeine after a certain hour – for me I am a stickler for a cup of coffee first thing in the morning – it gets me going/wakes me up for the day. So conversely – I know if I have any caffeine of any description after around 4pm – I will be still slightly wired come bed time. Find your own cut off time and stick to it
- DONT: Eat too soon or heavily before you go to bed. Again more personal experience than scientific/empirical – but I find when I go to bed with a full stomach – it is uncomfortable as the body is working hard to break everything down.
Fun fact: By giving your body time to digest your last meal before retiring for the night – less chance of the calories turning into fat.
- DO: Switch off from news/social media a few hours before heading to bed. God knows there is enough bad news stories out there – no need to have them fresh in your mind when trying to sleep.
- DONT:Building on the above point. Do not bring your iPhone/laptop/tablet to bed. Plenty of scientific research notes that blue/LED light suppresses the production of melatonin (nifty little hormone fella that helps your circadian rhythm /promotes restorative sleep). On a more personal note – it avoids increasing stress from potential work emails or cyber arguments that can pop into your feed.
- DO: Plan for something to help you unwind in a non electronic manner. This could be reading a good old fashioned book, practising meditation or focus on deep cleansing breathing.
- DO: Make sure your room is set for a good nights sleep. This is as simple as making sure you a good comfortable mattress, pillow and at a push black out blinds.
As athletes, we spend 000s on equipment but often do not invest in other key areas that will help! Get a good mattress!
Room Temp is also a key factor in allowing you drift off comfortably but can be very individual so wont be overly prescriptive here.
So as you can discern from my musings – I am no scientist and none of the above is rocket science.
Main thing is to have solid routine incorporating the DO and DONTs above
Here is my typical routine
- Last coffee by 4pm
- Last training session completed by 7pm
- Dinner completed by 8pm
- Chill out time (including prep for next days training/work) completed by 9:30pm
- I do try to have the phone switched off by then but not as always possible
- Bed with a good book by 10pm
- Asleep by 10:30
The above works well for me ….. Up to you to find your perfect routine.
Sweet PB laden dreams folks!
Steven Moody has starred in the corporate rat race but found his greatest source of satisfaction came from his 20 years of endurance racing including numerous IRONMAN finishes and world championship qualifications
Realising this fact, Steven abandoned his cubicle and moved into full time coaching. Steven is now Tri Sutto, IRONMAN UNIVERSITY ®, ITU and Training Peaks level 2 certified and in 2017, was awarded Triathlon Ireland Coach of the year. Browse his pre-built training plans by clicking here or if you have triathlon queries you can contact him via firstname.lastname@example.org