I couldn’t come up with a snappier title because, quite frankly, that’s as direct as it gets.

If you’re putting in the hard yards with your training, but you’re disregarding your recovery, it’s a critical error. Research has shown that sleep (AKA recovery) is just as important as physical conditioning AND nutrition to maximising performance.

If you’re prioritising everything except sleep, it may lead to partial sleep deprivation and this is what you’re potentially doing to your performance;

  • ↓ sports specific skills
  • ↓ submaximal sustained exercise
  • ↓ muscular and anaerobic power
  • ↑ reaction time
  • ↓ fine motor movement
  • ↓ memory
  • ↓ decision making
  • ↓ mood stability

Furthermore, sleep loss reduces muscle protein synthesis (muscle recovery & repair) whilst also increasing muscle degradation (muscle damage). Not to mention it also reduces glycogen stores (available energy supply)!!!

In my opinion, if you’re sleeping on sleep, you’re doing TWICE the work for HALF the results. Prioritising sleep and working on optimising sleep hygiene provides the EASIEST and MOST EFFECTIVE recovery strategy.

The easiest way to optimise recovery and reap performance benefits is simply to sleep more. Some of us find that easy, others not so much. So, here’s some tips from the research!

  • Aim for 7-9hrs sleep a night
    • More if you’re particularly active or an elite athlete
  • Sleep needs vary considerably between individuals – find what works best for YOU
  • Limit weekend sleep ins to within one hour of regular wake time
  • Maximise sleep hygiene (good sleep-related behaviours). These include;
    • Comfortable temperature
    • Dark & quiet
    • Limit stimulating activity prior to bed
    • Dim light up to two hours prior to bedtime
  • Try not to let the idea of sleep make you stressed! This increases sympathetic nervous system activity, which increases arousal and delays sleep onset. Optimal exercise adaptation and recovery requires activation of the parasympathetic nervous system, so relax and work on good sleep hygiene (as above)
  • Maintain for one to three months for best results

If you’re pushing the limits and squeezing in two (or more…) training sessions daily, then you may also benefit from napping. A quick kip, approximately two hours following training, has been shown to improve preparedness to train in subsequent sessions.

As always, thanks for reading!