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Sleep and Performance

Updated on September 14, 2019

Sleep has a direct impact on your health and wellness.

Sleep, we all need it. We all like it, mostly. Maybe not toddlers. But sleep is just as important for them too.

Sleep is one of the most important things (along with working out and healthy eating) that has a direct impact on our health. Sleep impacts your immune system, metabolism, hormones, memory, energy levels, etc. We can get into some deep conversation in regards to sleep but this post is going to more geared to its impact on training and performance.

We all know that when we sleep, we have more energy. That I hope is common knowledge. What is not common knowledge however is the amount amount of sleep each night we should get. Research has shown the answer is roughly 7-9 hours a night. Minimum of 7 hours and not much more needed after 9. So 8 hours is a good amount. Part of this is determined by humans sleep cycles. How long it takes to cycle through each. 8 hours has been roughly the amount of time needed for your brain to complete this.

What happens when you receive less than 7 hours of sleep?

What happens to your body when you receive less than 7 hours of sleep in ONE night?

- Decreased Energy: Less energy means lower performance output. Performance levels drop and therefore limiting your ability to get better during lifting, practice or games.

- Lower Testosterone levels (more important for males): Testosterone plays a big role in increasing muscular strength. So if you are an athlete trying to get better, don't skip out on sleep. Sleep is a muscle builder.

- Lower Immune system: You body has less ability to fight off sickness, disease and infections. Meaning, you are more likely to be sick. The more sick you are, the less you can practice, lift and play. You see the problem.

- Lower Metabolism: If you are trying to lose weight, this MAY make it more challenging. If you are trying to gain weight, the lack of sleep may increase your daily metabolism causing you to burn more daily calories forcing you to consume more food just to try and break even. Let alone eating enough to gain weight which is already challenging enough without a very high metabolism. There are many people out there (especially many teenagers) who naturally have a high metabolism. Ask them how difficult it is to eat enough to maintain weight/put on muscle.

There are many many other things that sleeping does to the human body if you do not sleep, but again, this post was going to focus on the performance side of sleep. If you have any questions, please contact me.

Sleep and Academics: Extra Post but very important

Being a former Division One Strength and Conditioning coach, I had the ability to work with some amazing athletes. However, they were also students. Students who took pride in the classroom as well. That lead to many instances of students staying up late to study, finish an assignment or because that was the only time to have a social life. Unfortunately, when you have an early morning lift the next day, then practice or a game, staying up late is not ideal. You must plan accordingly and set yourself up for at least 8 hours of quality sleep.

Another thing that bothered me was kids staying up all night to study for a test. That is not a smart idea. You NEED to sleep before a test/exam. Research shows that you remember more information when you have proper sleep. That includes REM sleep and Non REM Sleep. Without sleep, both REM and NREM, your brain is set up to fail in terms of remembering information you have studied in the past and trying to function at a high level during the exam. Also, you will be tired and therefore decrease your ability to concentrate. Caffeine can be a very, short term, effective method to give you some energy but that is an entirely different conversation.

Research has shown over and over again that learning something before 8 hours of sleep was retained at a higher rate than learning something than sleeping less than 5 hours. Getting proper sleep before a test/exam or more important than pulling that all nighter. My suggestion, study periodically throughout the week for the exam instead of waiting until the last minute.

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