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The Sleeping Athlete

The Sleeping Athlete

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THE SLEEPING ATHLETE                                                by Neil Vallance

Hammer Nutrition has long advocated getting plenty of sleep to aid recovery and boost immune system function. Sleep may impact other aspects of an athlete’s training and racing as well, as reported in two Stanford University studies that suggest sleep may directly impact your race day performance and consistently getting adequate sleep may provide an additional competitive edge.

Five healthy men and women on the Stanford University swim team participated in the study, extending their nightly sleep to ten hours per day for 6-7 weeks. Their athletic performances were monitored at each swim practice during the study period, and they showed improvement in different aspects of performance: 15-meter sprint times improved by 0.51 seconds, start time off the block improved by 0.10seconds, and kick strokes improved by five kicks. Daytime sleepiness and mood changes were also evaluated.  

Study participants reported a decrease in daytime sleepiness, higher ratings of vigor, and a lower rate of fatigue. A similar study conducted by the Stanford University School of Medicine involved members of the men’s basketball team. Their performances were evaluated after getting at least ten hours of sleep each night for 5-7 weeks and then compared to their baseline performances as measured prior to the start of the study.

The report, published in 2011, showed that average sprint times decreased by 5%. In addition, three-point field goal accuracy improved by 9.5%, and free-throw accuracy increased by 9%. It should be noted that when ten consecutive hours of sleep was not possible, study participants added naps to their daily routine to achieve the total of ten hours of sleep necessary. To ensure adequate recovery, a healthy immune system, and optimal performance on race day, a wise strategy is to get plenty of sleep consistently, especially in the weeks leading up to your next event. Hammer Nutrition REM Caps is a powerful yet safe sleep aid that can help improve the quality and length of sleep. Here are a few guidelines for a healthful night's sleep:

1. Plan on a daily transition from stimulating activities to less active, relaxing pursuits up to three hours prior to sleep–such as reading, listening to music, soaking in a warm bath, or taking a walk.

2. Avoid consumption of caffeine, alcohol, or foods rich in tyrosine or tyramine at least six hours before going to bed.

3. Avoid stimulating arousal from exercise, stress, or medications at least six hours prior to sleep.

4. See if you can synchronize your sleep pattern with available sunlight by developing the habit of going to bed when the sun sets and waking near the time when it rises. While this is not always possible, you can try to reinforce your basic sleep cycles (circadian rhythms) by providing a dark, quiet environment for sleep.

5. If you nap between two-a-day workouts, attempt to sleep for at least 90 minutes to complete a deep-sleep cycle for optimal recuperation and muscle mass growth during sleep.

The main goal of sleep is recovery. The better you sleep, the better your recovery will be! Hammer Whey Protein is the ideal pre-sleep option to provide protein for muscle and cellular repair overnight. The L-Glutamine will also provide a melatonin boost for improved sleep. Add 1 scoop of Whey to 250ml of water, or Chamomile tea, and consume 60-30 minutes before bed. Sleep Tight!

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