Sleep..we all love it but are we getting enough?
Sleep is probably one of the least glamorous recovery modalities but it is the most effective.
We see compression tights, carbohydrate drinks, protein shakes, ice baths and various other less proven recovery options advertised around us each and every day.
In reality, these are what we call one percenters…yes, most of them make a small difference and are worthwhile using at the pointy end of competition but what can make an even bigger difference is good old fashioned sleep..and plenty of it.
Endurance athletes have been practising this for years. Elite runners, cyclists, swimmers and triathletes are all known to have an afternoon nap or siesta most days to help the body recover, mend and repair in preparation for the next training session and to help aid the adaptation process and reduce injury risk. Some of the world’s top African runners are renowned for their unusual ability to sleep for hours on end.
A 2008 study published in the Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise gathered 25 years worth of longitudinal data in a large cohort of Israeli Army recruits and found that the only interventions that had a significant reduction of lower limb stress fractures was seven hours minimum sleep a night and reduced cumulative marching. Stress fracture rates lowered from 30.7% to 11.6% (62% decrease).
Sleep hygiene is important. A good sleeping environment is needed to help bank those uninterrupted sleep cycles. Make sure you are in a cool, dark and quiet place to sleep. Eye masks and good curtains are a good idea to block out unwanted light and a cool room with good ventilation will also help aid sleeping patterns. Sleep onset corresponds closely with an increase or decline in core body temperature. If you are hot before bed try having a cold shower, and vice versa. Good sleep is defined as falling asleep within thirty minutes, sleeping through the night with only brief awakenings and feeling refreshed within one hour of waking on 5-7 days a week.
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