How Sleep Affects Athlete Performance

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A significant number of the clients that I work with are actually busy professionals interested in weightlifting. Our online weightlifting program has people from all walks of life, not just the young, competitive weightlifter.

We have lawyers, IT professionals, inner city policemen, and even a brain surgeon.  For the last several years I have written programs for these athletes, and lots have had really great success.

Force weightlifting athlete Julian Gomez is a lawyer, and recently won his age group and weight class for the entire state of Texas with a lifetime PR in the Snatch and Clean and Jerk!

It’s amazing how these athletes do it, most are in their 30’s, 40’s and even 50’s, pursuing a sport (weightlifting) that is usually reserved for those in their teens and 20’s.

I recently made one change to their programs that has made a world of difference in their performance. Three months ago I added a single box on the program sheet for my athletes to fill out.

“Sleep”

Next to it was a blank box for the athlete to fill in.

For the first couple weeks or even month, the numbers were often five or six hours.  Suddenly however that number started increasing to 7, 8, even 9 hours. Alongside this, the performance of my busy professionals started to improve. Athletes who hadn’t PR’ed in months had set new personal records just with more sleep.

How important is sleep?

The Guinness book of world records keeps some crazy records.

The world’s wealthiest cat? Blackie, who was left an inheritance of over $12 million.

The largest collection of garden gnomes sits at over 2,000.

The longest fingernails on record are over 32 feet in length. (seriously?)

Felix Baumgartner set the world record for highest skydive by literally going into space to jump.

Despite all of this record keeping, one record has been banished from the record books due to concerns for the health of the participants. The Guinness book of world records banished sleep deprivation, due to potential ill effects. 

The pillars of performance at Force are nutrition, stress, movement and sleep. Each of the four is important, but to me the most overlooked is sleep. To truly perform at your best, athletes must get enough sleep.

Clients and athletes often think that if they eat right and train hard, things are going to magically take care of themselves. Sleep is the great equalizer, if you want to workout hard, you need sleep to recover. If your day to day life is crazy stressful, sleep will help give your body a chance to get back to normal.

It’s all pretty simple too, just track your sleep by total hours (when you got in bed and when you got out of bed). Ideally we like to end up at close to 8 hours of sleep per night (for adults, young athletes are more), but initially if you find you’re sleeping only 4 hours or 5 hours, just try to get a little more (30 minutes or so). I think you’ll find this little increase in sleep will benefit your performance greatly.

In Health,

Wil

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