Military boot camps are renowned for demanding the best from participants, with cardio, strength, resistance, and other exercises allowing you to hone your physical fitness.
If you have signed up for a boot camp, without a doubt you have read about the importance of training and nutrition – but one area you might definitely have to give more priority to is sleep.
Recent research indicates that athletes may experience a reduced quality and/or quantity of sleep. This can have a significant effect on their athletic performance, especially sub-maximal, prolonged exercise.
Studies have long shown that sleep deprivation negatively impacts your learning, memory, pain perception, cognitive abilities, immunity, and inflammation … but it can also stop you from giving your best on the field.
Why Does Poor Sleep affect your Athletic Abilities?
A study focused on measuring the changes that take place after sleep deprivation has found that the latter causes changes in carbohydrate metabolism, appetite, food intake, and protein synthesis.
All these changes, say scientists, “have a negative influence on an athlete’s nutritional, metabolic and endocrine status and hence potentially reduce athletic performance.”
The researchers recommend the use of valerian, melatonin and other substances as possible ways to help alert athletes feel sleepier at night.
Extra Sleep can Boost your Athletic Performance
A study published by researchers at Stanford University found that athletes who obtained as much extra sleep as they could showed improvements in athletic performances – measured by their sprint time and basketball shooting percentages. The athletes also enjoyed a better mood.
Previous studies had already shown that a lack of sleep brings about an increased risk for depression and other mood disorders.
Discovering the Reason for your Sleep Problems
Sleep quantity is the not the same thing as sleep quality. The latter involves many factors, including sleeping through all cycles (including the restorative deep sleep cycle), falling asleep within half an hour of getting into bed, and waking up no more than once at night.
If you wake up and you feel tired, or you are often drowsy during the day, you may need to improve your sleeping environment.
If your mattress is older than 10 years, it is time for a change. Good sleep depends on having a mattress with the right firmness for your sleeping position. Firm mattresses are the top choices for stomach sleeping, while memory foam mattresses are good choices for side sleepers.
Make sure your pillow is the right height as well, to avoid cervical and neck pain. Finally, make sure your room is dark, cool, and silent.
Is Stress the Reason for your Poor Sleep Quality?
The reason you are tossing and turning at night could be stress. If you are affected by stress, anxiety, or depression, taking a proactive stance to the problem is key.
Progressive muscle relaxation, breathing exercises, and mindful activities like meditation have also been found to significantly reduce levels of stress hormone, cortisol.
If you are keen on giving it all at your next boot camp, value sleep as much as you do nutrition.
Aim to convert your bedroom into a comfortable resting space, and consider stress-busting exercises throughout the day.
If you find that despite following a good sleeping routine, your sleep quality is poor, consider seeing a sleep specialist to check for possible causes such as sleep apnoea.