Improving Performance: Sleep Well!
I often would tell parents and athletes that there are three important keys to athletic performance that they can control. Eat well, train hard and sleep well. A recent study was in agreement with sleeping well and added to what is already known about the importance of sleep in athletes. A team of researchers from University of California, San Francisco, under Dr. Cheri Mah, looked at elite cyclists and the effects of restricted sleep. After 3 days of sleep restriction, there was a decrease in maximal aerobic power, submaximal heart rate and peak heart rate during physiological assessments of these cyclists.
The findings of this study suggest that poor sleep can result in performance impairments in elite athletes, in this case the endurance athlete. However, this applies to the elite as well as everyday exerciser. Short term loss of sleep will impair aerobic performance as well as decrease cognitive function. Long term sleep loss can lead to increases in cardiovascular disease, hypertension and diabetes. This sleep debt cannot be reversed easily as other studies have shown the effects of chronic sleep deprivation won’t improve despite several days of recovery sleep.
Let’s encourage our patients to remember the importance of sleep when discussing overall health. So be sure to optimize your sleep hygiene and remember regular exercise is been shown to be one of the most effective ways to improve your sleep.