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Sleep And Physical Performance

How Sleeps impacts upon physical performance

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Sleep and physical performance

We are all involved in physical performance.

From the fine motor skills of typing on a keyboard or performing brain surgery, to the gross motor skills of walking the dog or dunking the winner in an NBA playoff final!

Physical performance is a way of life.

It especially critical for children learning movements at an early age and injury sufferers recovering from serious conditions like a stroke.

So how can sleep aid with these things?

We already know that sleep aids mental performance and, yes, as you may have guessed, it aids physical performance too.

Again, I must refer you to one of my favourite books and probably the most important piece of text for any performer that I have read in recent times; especially those who are interested in learning new skills or competing in sport.

The piece of text is titled “Sleep for other types of memory” which begins on page 123 of Matthew Walker’s book Why We sleep.

I’m not going to rewrite what Walker has already reported but to give you a taste, sleep aids:

  • Motor skill speed
  • Motor skill accuracy
  • Physical recovery and muscle repair
  • Reenergising

Whilst obtaining less than eight hours sleep per night, and especially less than six, hinders:

  • Time to physical exhaustion
  • Aerobic output
  • Limb force
  • Vertical jump height
  • Peak and sustained muscle strength
  • Blood oxygen saturation
  • The body’s ability to cool itself

And increases:

  • Injury risk
  • Rate of lactic acid build-up
  • Blood carbon dioxide

One of the most important things to note about Walker’s findings is that you must get a full night of at least 8 hours sleep to optimise the benefits!

Sleep occurs in stages and cycles, with each stage and cycle offering slightly different benefits.

For example, sleep spindles, responsible for improved memory and skill learning, are most abundant in the latter hours of sleep (during stage 2 in the last two hours before waking from an eight-hour sleep).

So those business leaders or coaches who suggest you get your ass out of bed early in the morning to train or study, may be indirectly hindering your learning potential and development by restricting you from a developmental phase of sleep!

Train hard but also train smart!

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