Over the next few days I will highlight three simple principles that will help improve your running performance dramatically. The first of these principles is eating, sleeping and hydration. Today we will cover how sleep, or lack of sleep, contributes to performance.
Exercise improves sleep quality, which can help recovery and thus subsequent training but too much exercise can reduce sleep quality, reduce recovery and make exercise harder. There are many negative effects of a lack of sleep.
A lack of sleep can trigger an autonomic nervous system imbalance simulating symptoms of overtraining. The feeling of overtraining will lead to the feeling of fatigue and will discourage you from training.
Deep sleep is the time when our body releases growth hormone, which is fundamental to tissue regeneration and growth.
Numerous studies have been done showing that we have a 1.7 times greater risk of injury if we get less than eight hours of sleep per night
A lack of sleep causes an increase in pro-inflammatory cytokines that can promote immune system dysfunction, lowering our ability to fight illnesses.
Sleep loss is associated with slower and less accurate cognitive functioning. A decrease in cognitive functioning will always diminish performance.
Continuing with the theme of cognitive performance, when sleep is less than seven hours in healthy adults, cognitive performance is poorer in tests for alertness, reaction time, memory, and decision making.
Perceptual and motor learning processes continue into and throughout sleep. These processes can mandate sufficient sleep follow training sessions.
A side note: Two hour exposure to light exposure from self-illuminating electronic devices can suppress melatonin by about 22% and affect sleep. Get off the phones and tablets at night if you want good sleep.