“Sleep is extremely important to me – I need to rest and recover in order for the training I do to be absorbed by my body” – Usain Bolt
The statement above comes from one of the highest caliber athletes in the world today, so it’s a safe bet to say that sleep is an important part of preparing for sports. Sleep is not only an important factor for world class athletes but for everyone, including those that workout and those who don’t.
The health benefits of sleep are numerous, but in relation to sport the recovery element is key. Sleep allows the body and mind time to recover, which is essential when training. This makes logical sense when you consider that training is pushing your body, if you need extra calories to fuel the activity your liable to need extra time for your body to recover. Muscle is built (in a very literal sense) by breaking the existing muscle in your workouts, it is the healing process that enables the muscle to grow back stronger. Babies, toddlers and teenagers need notably more sleep in order to facilitate the rapid growth at these stages of life. So it makes sense that if you are aiming to “grow” more muscle you are going to require more sleep.
Dr Maas and Dr Davis go as far as to say that just one hour of extra sleep can have a dramatic effect on athletic performance at any level. With studies suggesting that performance can increase by up to 5% in a range of cardio based sports. As described above, sleep aids in terms of recovery and growth but sleep is also an important factor in terms of simple body maintenance. At night your heart and breathing rate decreases, meaning that there is less pressure placed on your vital organs. One system that reaches its peak activity while you sleep is the glympathic system, which serves to remove the waste from the central nervous system. So in simplified terms, when you sleep not only is your brain processing all the events of the day, it is also clearing out any interstitial waste products, which could be why you feel fresher after sleeping properly!
To get the best quality sleep, it is worth investing in the best mattress and bedding that you can afford. Sealy have a fantastic range of beds and mattresses, so you are sure to find the right mattress to allow you a perfect night’s sleep. Pocket spring options allow a higher degree of comfort for the individual, as movements are isolated to the area by the separated springs. The hybrid range features the Sealy patented Geltex gel which offers the pressure relief of memory foam but with a higher degree of breathability and longevity, making it the perfect option for athletes.
Another important thing to consider when aiming to increase your sleep time is to create a schedule and stick to it. In the same way that you schedule cardio, rest and various strength area days, sleep is a metric to include. We are hard wired to sleep in line with the natural rhythms of the day and night, including the act of sleep itself consisting of various cycles. So adjusting your body clock requires a level of dedication to setting a new sleep schedule. So after a hard workout make sure you get an early night!