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How important is sleep to your athletic performance?

Sleep well. Live well.

Tips on how to plan your bedtime routine…

5 hours before bed, say no to caffeine…

Research suggests that caffeine can make it hard to fall asleep and to stay asleep. This includes coffee, most teas (black, breakfast tea, and green), energy drink, some soft drinks, and chocolate.

3 hours before bed: exercise needs to stop, sleep is crucial to your performance…

Strenuous exercise close to bedtime can make it harder to fall asleep. This is why you should always try to train earlier in the day rather than later when given a choice. Obviously, there are some circumstances where you can’t always put your feet up from 6pm as some of you may compete.

3 hours before bed: finish eating

Midnight snacks are a big no! Your digestion is influenced by your body clock and eating too close to bedtime may keep you up and unsettle your stomach causing pain which may affect your performance the next day.

2 hours before bed: limit fluid intake

Stay well hydrated through the day/night, so you can limit fluids before sleeping. The aim is to go to sleep with an empty bladder.

How do you stay hydrated throughout the day as an athlete?

A good guideline is to drink about 50ml per kilogram bodyweight throughout the day. At warm temperatures, you should drink one or two litres more as you lose more liquid through sweat. Before, during and after exercising, your demand for water increases even more.

1 hour before bed: turn off electronic devices and dim your lights

As talked about earlier on in the blog technology and sleep is an area that you need to be aware of. This is because the light from TV’s, tablets and smartphones will slow your body’s melatonin release, a key promoter of sleepiness.

30 minutes before bed: relaxation is key

We recommend a warm shower or a bubble bath, whatever you prefer. Followed by relaxing music, reading or listening to an audiobook or podcast.

The science behind why we need sleep for our muscle growth and repair…

So, the majority of muscle repair and growth occurs during sleep when hormones are released. Without adequate sleep, muscle gain is greatly diminished. As an adult, you should be getting between seven to nine hours of sleep daily. However, as an athlete, you may need more depending on how hard you’re training. Without this, you will experience sleep deprivation which will slow the release of the growth hormone. 

When you do a workout, you cause micro-damage within muscle tissue and also damage the complex chains of proteins that are housed within the muscle. The damaged areas are then flooded with chemicals called reactive oxygen species. These act like mini-explosions inside muscle fibres causing further damage to muscle tissue. This damage begins with your muscles becoming inflamed (inflammatory response). Your body will then register the damage by a chemical messenger system. This feedback system from the muscles to the brain then initiates an immune and inflammatory response to deal with this damage. So, it’s basically like your body is doing damage control!

Anti-inflammatory agents are sent to the sites of damage. These chemicals remove damaged cells and tissue and begin the process of repair and replacement. Your body also produces growth factors for new muscle fibre formation and to replace damaged proteins. Over time, this constant stress of training creates adaptation in the muscle that increases muscle size.

Why More Sleep May Improve Your Sports Performance…

Research suggests that deep sleep will help improve your athletic performance because this is the time when growth hormone is released. Growth hormone stimulates muscle growth and repair, bone building and fat burning, and helps athletes recover. Studies show that sleep deprivation will slow down the release of this growth hormone which could have a negative effect on your overall performance as an athlete. Not only is sleep necessary for your growth but it is also necessary in order to learn new skills and as athletes, this is a key requirement for us.

Reasons as to Why Sleep May Be Disturbed…

Technology and Sleep – this may come to a shock to you, but a likely cause of sleep loss emerged in a recent study which determined that technology can cause a huge disruption to your sleeping pattern. It is thought that the light used in virtually every cell phone, laptop, and TV screen is detrimental to sleep. Exposure to this light severely decreases the body’s output of melatonin, the hormone that naturally makes people feel drowsy. Exposure to blue light causes a disturbance of the CNS, which will put off melatonin production for 90 minutes and make falling asleep much more difficult.