This article is authored by Doug Scott. Opinions expressed may not be that of SMARTER Team Training, STT sponsors or constituents. Coach Scott has been a member of the Pingry faculty since 1999 and has served as a Physical Education teacher and Strength and Conditioning coach since that time. Doug designs workouts for both male and female student athletes competing on a variety of Varsity and Junior Varsity athletic teams, including many county, state, and conference championship teams. Listen to Doug’s podcast on iTunes by clicking here.
No, this is not the latest in exercise gimmicks or a miracle exercise devices designed to build muscle in record time. This is a deeper look at something that is often over looked and rarely considered as part of a well rounded fitness routine. If your goal is to increase strength, stamina or athletic ability, all the pieces may be in place, but if you’re not sleeping properly you maybe coming up short.
Sports scientists have been looking at the effect of sleep deprivation on athletic performance and have found some interesting results: Lack of sleep, categorized as under 8 hours a night, showed an increase in excretion of urea, which is associated with muscle protein breakdown. For an athlete this means that regardless of how hard you weight train or how much you pay attention to eating protein, you will be losing muscle since muscle gain requires protein synthesis, not protein breakdown.
Prolonged sleep deprivation (more than 3 days) causes an increase in heart rate and breathing rate during activity, having negative effects on maximum oxygen consumption (VO2max). This means you will be working harder at a lower level of intensity; this is not a good thing if you play a sport that requires fast or explosive movements.
Poor sleeping patterns also have negative effects on reaction time, alertness and concentration. Not being able to concentrate or pay attention can cause mental mistakes on the field, giving your opponent an advantage.
Tips to Improve Your Sleep
1. Set a schedule: set a bedtime for yourself and stick to it! If you fall asleep
and wake up at the same time each day, you will be reinforcing a sleeping pattern that will promote a more restful nights sleep.
2. Turn off all electronics 30 minutes before bed: too much stimulation close to bedtime prevents your brain from “slowing down” and makes falling and staying asleep difficult.
3. Pay attention to what you eat: eating too much or too little may leave you feeling uncomfortable and disrupt your sleep. Also avoid caffeine or other stimulants close to bedtime.
4. Get Comfortable: this is subjective but try to create an environment that is relaxing and promotes sleep.
5. Take naps: if you fail to get your required sleep for the night, try to schedule an afternoon nap. Just be careful to not nap too long because it may interfere with your nighttime sleep.
Something to Sleep On
Improving your strength and fitness takes time and paying attention to the smallest of details will pay off in the long run. In addition to performing your exercise routine and eating properly, pay attention to your sleeping habits. You might wake up a whole lot stronger.
Doug Scott believes that strength training is a “means to and end” and should be a part of every athlete’s lifestyle; and it’s the coaches job to facilitate learning and put the athlete in the best position to get the most out of themselves and ultimately succeed. Mr. Scott has also worked as a personal trainer and has written a number of fitness-related articles and chapters. Coach Scott is a member of the National Strength and Conditioning Association, and hold the title of Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.