Sleep is one of the most underrated, neglected and important parts of any athletes recovery program. It is when the most recovery and adaptation from exercise occurs and is imperative to see the gains which we all work so hard to achieve.
During exercise you are applying specific stressors to both your cognitive and physiologic systems in order to cause adaptation that can help you perform better on the field. Sleep ensures that multiple psychological and physiological processes occur to aid in the recovery from these demands. If you are not getting enough sleep it is safe to say that you may not fully realize the gains and performance improvements that you should be experiencing. Although why we sleep is largely unproven, several theories support that it has a restorative effect on both the immune and endocrine systems, it has been shown to aid in learning and it helps in the recovery from both metabolic and nervous system demands placed on it during a wakeful state. If you are unable to get a good night’s sleep you may not be able to help these bodily systems return to their normal homeostatic state.
Most people require between 6-10 hours of sleep per night and it is up to the individual to know how much sleep they truly need. It should be your goal to fall asleep at the first signs of sleepiness and to not fight these feelings that include drowsiness, yawning and heavy eyelids. Being more aware of these sleep indicators may help you to fall asleep at a reasonable time when your body is ready. You should also avoid drinks containing caffeine and taurine during the later afternoon hours as this may affect your ability to fall asleep when your body is ready to.
Sleep deprivation may lead to under-recovery due to altered physiological recovery and increased energy expenditure and metabolic demands including decreased hormone production, decreased ability to replenish muscle energy, and increased sympathetic arousal each of which has been correlated with decreased performance. As you can see achieving the right amount of sleep each night is imperative to achieving your training goals and success on the field.
Below are 7 Tips as taken from Recovery from Performance in Sport to help you improve your sleep hygiene.
- Set intense training before 6pm.
- Keep a regular sleep schedule.
- Eat and drink correctly.
- Create a relaxing bedtime routine.
- Make your bedroom more sleep friendly.
- Manage anxiety and stress.
- Utilize basic techniques to get back to sleep.
For more information on sleep and recovery you can contact Rob or Jon at Maplezone Sports Institute (MSI) and at The Training Room Physical Therapy inside of MSI.
*Hausswirth, C., & Mujika, I. (Eds.). (2013) Recovery from Performance in Sport. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.