Sleep & Performance

Sleep is a pillar of any athletes good performance. It is an inexpensive, feel-good performance enhancer. It is also integral to healing and recovery. However, most athletes have the tendency to overestimate the amount and quality of the sleep that they get. Which means you may think you are getting enough sleep, but the reality is you probably are be falling short. 

The recommended amount of sleep is seven-nine hours for all humans (and bananas). But, if you are training hard, pushing yourself regularly you may actually need more. Sleep is cumulative. If you have multiple nights in a row where you sleep two-three hours less it impacts your performance and recovery. But it goes the other way as well. If you are preparing for a race and you know you might not sleep well the night before add a few extra hours of sleep earlier in the week and bank your sleep. 

So, why do we need good sleep and what happens when we get good sleep?

  • Better adaption to training
  • Bone and muscles repair
  • Boosts the immune system (so we don't get sick)
  • Strengthens the endocrine system (improved hormonal balance)
  • Improves mental focus (at home, work and in competition)
  • Improves mental clarity
  • Stimulates recovery of the nervous system 
  • Stimulates increased HGH release

There are a wide variety of reasons why sleep is important. We have told you not getting sleep is detrimental, but what does that actually mean and what happens when we don't sleep well?

  • Injury (knee pain, back pain, hip pain or more)
  • Illness (often respiratory or worse)
  • Increased cortisol (the stress hormone)
  • Increased catabolism (breakdown of muscles and tissue)
  • Decreases glycogen stores
  • Impacts appetite 
  • Impairs muscle rebuilding
  • Fatigue
  • Impaired protein synthesis 
  • Blunted training effects 
  • Increased injury rate

It has also been shown that athletes that sleep less:

  • Have decreased sub maximal lifts
  • Demonstrate a faster time to exhaustion
  • Have increased rate of perceived exertion
  • Decreased and altered sprint times
  • Decreased muscle power
  • Decreased running performance

If you are an athlete that struggles with sleep then now is the time to make some changes to improve your overall health, reduce injury and perform better. To learn more you can subscribe to our online subscription at Fast Bananas and hear directly from one of our contributors, Dr. Amy Bender a sleep scientist that workers with Olympic runners. You can also listen to her on  The More Than Miles Podcast