Sleep is vital for recovery from training and a determinant of athletic success. Factors such as early morning training, long haul travel, nervousness or anxiety and nervous system hyperactivity following late night training or competition all affect sleep.
Sleep Study on Endurance Athletes
A study conducted on cyclists found that athletes under the reduced sleep protocol suffered a 3% performance drop, whilst athletes who were in the increased sleep protocol had a 3% increase in performance. Interestingly, all athletes had the same perceived exertion in the time trials.
It was concluded that prior sleep duration affected performance by altering the perceived effort of a given exercise intensity (i.e., power output) such that sleep extension allows higher exercise intensities to be tolerated.
It has also been found that low prior sleep affects muscle glycogen levels (carbohydrate stores) and reduces the effectiveness of your immune system.
A little extra sleep per night, when accumulated over several nights, can improve endurance performance.
This may mean heading to bed earlier when you have early morning training, or sleeping in when you have a late night competition or training session. Day napping is a good way to supplement night-time sleep.
Good sleep hygiene includes a cool bedroom, low light environment, consistent sleep/wake schedule, monitoring screen time and caffeine intake.
Reduced sleep may affect endurance performance by ~ 3%
Higher intensity training may be better tolerated with more sleep
Bank up sleep by regulating sleep/wake schedule and adding in naps where required
Have good sleep hygiene