BENEFITS OF SLEEP FOR TRIATHLON TRAINING
Most of us have experienced the great feeling after a good night’s sleep, your day feels effortless and motivation is easy to find. On the other hand a bad nights sleep really affects your mood, vitality and energy levels, it puts a damper on your ability to take on the day and reduces the likelihood any training sessions will be done. So how important is sleep to your training?
The researcher, Mah, performed a number of studies evaluating sleep and its effect on sports performance. Mah (2011) found that getting extra sleep over several weeks improved sport performance on the following measures:
- Mood and
- Alertness for athletes on the Stanford men’s and women’s swim teams and men’s basketball team.
“Researchers speculate that deep sleep helps improve 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 slows the release of growth hormone. Sleep is also necessary for learning a new skill, so this phase of sleep may be critical for some athletes.” Sports Medicine
What is the right amount of sleep for Triathletes?
Sleep experts recommend seven to nine hours of daily sleep for adults, and nine to ten hours for adolescents and teens however it really depends on you. You can estimate your own needs by experimenting over a few weeks. If you fall asleep within 20 minutes of going to bed and wake up without an alarm, you are probably getting the right amount of sleep. If you fall asleep immediately upon hitting the pillow and always need an alarm to wake up, you are probably sleep deprived.
Myths about sleep
Do you go to bed early only to find yourself wide awake in the middle of the night? There’s evidence to suggest that our ancestors slept for 4 hours, get up for an hour or two then go back to bed for another 4 hours. Experiments have shown that this is our natural sleeping pattern but the question is, “how would this fit into our life now?” read more at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-16964783
Is this you? Being wide awake when you have an important training session before work can increase your anxiety levels and stop you getting back to sleep. Knowing that it could just be your natural sleep pattern should help reduced the anxiety and help you relax.
Triathletes sleep cycle
Every 60-100 minutes we go through a cycle of four stages of sleep
Stage 1 is a drowsy, relaxed state between being awake and sleeping – breathing slows, muscles relax, heart rate drops
Stage 2 is slightly deeper sleep – you may feel awake and this means that, on many nights, you may be asleep and not know it
Stage 3 and Stage 4, or Deep Sleep – it is very hard to wake up from Deep Sleep because this is when there is the lowest amount of activity in your body
After Deep Sleep, we go back to Stage 2 for a few minutes, and then enter Dream Sleep – also called REM (rapid eye movement) sleep – which, as its name suggests, is when you dream
In a full sleep cycle, a person goes through all the stages of sleep from one to four, then back down through stages three and two, before entering dream sleep
How to Use Sleep to Improve Triathlon Performance
It’s important to understand the patterns you require to ensure a good night’s sleep. Does reading for 20min before switching off the light help you drift off to sleep? Some people like music while others find a warm herbal tea or milk drink helps the journey to Dreamland. Try to think what you’ve done that helped you sleep more effectively and then try to copy this pattern going forward.
Here are some pointers to help you develop an effective sleep patter
- Make sleep a priority in your training schedule.
- Eat meals at least 2 hours prior to sleeping, a heavy meal prior to sleeping has shown to result in a restless night
- Minimise your intake of alcohol, caffeine and energy drinks prior to calling it a night as these will increase your metabolism
- Increase your sleep time several weeks before a major competition.
- Go to bed and wake up at the same times every day – create a sleeping pattern by waking up at the same time each night and this will help your body find a rhythm
- Take daily naps if you don’t get enough sleep each night