Maybe it’s a dream to be a professional athlete and sleep 12 hours a day, yet this brief interview with neuroscientist Matthew Walker offers critical information to anyone who trains for triathlon. Click here to see the entire interview!
As Dr. Walker points out, “Sleep is the greatest legal performance enhancing drug that few athletes are abusing enough.” He goes on to state that Roger Federer, Usain Bolt and LeBron James regularly get 12 hours of sleep a day, 10 hours of sleep at night and 2 hours of naps during the day. Again, maybe it’s a dream to get even close to this much sleep a day, but could we all benefit from more sleep? The answer is a huge yes. Here are the research-based benefits that getting adequate (8 hours or more) sleep on a regular basis will have on your physical performance in training and racing:
- Getting more sleep the night before your race will improve your performance that day.
- Getting adequate sleep on a regular basis repairs and regenerates tissues after hard training and prepares the body to perform.
- Regular training creates a low level chronic inflammatory response. Sleep decreases this accumulated inflammation in the body.
- Speed of muscle tissue repair and regeneration increases with adequate sleep.
- Recovering from day to day training and life stresses is dramatically improved when getting adequate sleep.
- When you start to short change your sleep, 6 hours or less, time to physical exhaustion is dropped by 40%. This means that fatigue during a workout or race will happen sooner…. Approximately 60% into your event.
- Peak muscle strength decreases with inadequate sleep.
- Less sleep decreases lung power and respiration, making it harder to take in oxygen and exhale CO2.
- Even the body’s ability to perspire and cool itself is diminished with inadequate.
- Injury risk increases exponentially with decreased sleep. The less sleep you get the greater your risk of injury: 6 hours or less, means up to 80% chance of getting injured, 9 hours = 15-20% injury risk.
Sleep truly is the best, least expensive, legal, performance-enhancing drug there is.