Thursday, 10 May 2012

On sleeping and workouts.

I've never been a big sleeper, even during the teenage years when usually party nights are followed by sleepy mornings I've always loved to wake up early. I just love mornings, the earlier the better. If I have time, I like to take long walks when the sun is rising, on the contrary I prefer the sunset (or later) for my workouts. Making some maths, I hardly sleep more than 6 hours a night, I suppose it's ok for me as usually I don't feel sleepy during days (honestly I have discovered the power of the 3-4 minutes micro-sleeps, they help a lot during the day, never underestimate this habit).
Anyway, lately I've slept less than normal for a week or something more. I was curious of the influence of a mild sleep deprivation on workouts. I always take note of my training so it's quite easy to compare times or lenghts of running/cycling/footbiking workouts. What I've noticed is that there are no big differences in performance. The big difference is in attention related to tiredness: for example after 30 minutes of heavybag my hits started to become quite inaccurate, while the first part of the training was assimilable to a regular heavybag workout after a full night of sleep. Footbiking followed the same pattern, when tiredness started to kick in my kicking became imprecise and the consequence was less control on the zigzaggins.
I've done a few researches online to check if there is any study on the relation between sleep deprivation and sport performance, I've found two good articles. Both seem to confirm my sensation, mental fatigue arrives before physical exaustion.
If you want to read the articles I've mentioned:
this one is about the relations between sleep and general physical performance.
this one is more specifical, it's written by a thriathlete that is also a medicine intern, so you can hardly find a more accurate analisys.
Both are good reads, and not only pro athletes but everyone with an active lifestyle should consider the importance of a good sleep pattern.

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