Race Tip #4: Sleep

A typical response we hear from athletes – when asked how much sleep they are getting a night – is, “not as much as I would like.” Athletes are great at working hard, but sometimes the importance of sleep is neglected. It’s not just the work you put in, but the amount of recovery you give your body. As an athlete, sleep is the most effective recovery strategy that we can utilize. Lack of sleep can increase risk for injury and affect physical and mental performance. A recent systematic review from Bonnar et al. (2018) found that extending sleep had the most beneficial effects on subsequent performance compared to napping, sleep hygiene, and post-exercise recovery strategies. Also, 7-9 hours of sleep per night is recommended for healthy adults but athletes need 9-10 hours to reach their full potential. Make sleep a priority. Set a regular bed time, avoid caffeine late in the day, and limit screen time before bed. Improving sleep can be difficult, but stick with it! It’s worth it. Train hard and rest harder!

Bonnar, D., Bartel, K., Kakoschke, N. et al. Sports Med (2018) 48: 683.