Vivomed – Importance of Sleep Hygiene on Performance

Vivomed – Importance of Sleep Hygiene on Physical Performance



Sleep is possibly one of the most underestimated recovery tools in sport & general health and well-being. It is common for an athlete to be focused on their training schedule and to a lesser degree dietary strategy, but all too often sleep is overlooked. A lack of sleep can significantly interfere with an athlete’s overall health and adaptation to training.

A lack of sleep can disrupt or inhibit the following;

• Protein Synthesis
• Immunity
• Appetite
• Memory
• Cognition
• Inflammation
• Carbohydrate metabolism

There are two main types of sleep; Rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep & non-rapid-eye-movement (NREM) sleep. The amount of the latter influences the quality of recovery amongst athletes (the more the better). During this phase of sleep growth hormone is released from the pituitary gland. A hormone which stimulates both the growth & repair of muscle tissue. The vast majority of growth hormone is released in the first wave of NREM and is regarded as the optimal time for the body to repair and restore itself. Sleep deprivation will inhibit this process, preventing optimal recovery, inducing risk of injury and reducing training adaptations.

Sleep deprivation can also result in;

• Reduced maximal strength
• Slower sprint speed
• Reduced voluntary activation
• Reduced muscle glycogen levels
• Reduced power output
• Reduced concentration

The onset of sleep can be promoted by eating carbohydrate dense foods such as pasta, rice & potatoes or tryptophan rich foods such as seaweed. Athletes should avoid eating or drinking caffeine rich beverages which could lead to an increased onset of sleep.

Napping can be beneficial for athletes, especially if performing two or more workouts on the same day. A nap of 30-45 minutes is sufficient.

Andy Murray
Andy Murray


“Rest is so ­important, On the days when I am not playing I try to get in and do my work early, deal with ­everything else that has to happen, and then get home and have a nap” Andy Murray (2).

Key tips for better sleep

• Try going to bed/getting up around the same time each day even on weekends
• Ensure your bedroom is cool to promote sleep onset
• Ensure the bedroom is dark
• Avoid use of electronic devices (phones, tablets, computers etc.) an hour before bed
• Avoid caffeine use a few hours before bed
• Try relaxation techniques such as yoga in the evening
• Avoid taking sleeping aids unless necessary

Athletes should aim to get between 8-10 hours of sleep each night on a consistent basis. “Attending to the importance of sleep will reduce the risk of overtraining/under-recovery, enhance resistance to illness and improve recovery from injury”(1)

Useful Links

  1. Sleep as a recovery tool for elite athletes, The athlete sleep screening questionnaire-


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