You have probably heard us saying that the three most important methods for recovery are sleep, good nutrition and hydration. We still think this is true.
A real life example of this was when I played a game of professional rugby on a Saturday night for the club, but we had an international camp in Poland, assembling as a squad on the Sunday.
The international coaches asked the players involved in the club match who were selected for international camp, would we want to fly straight to Poland after the game, which meant we could utilise an additional cryotherapy treatment on Saturday evening (albeit late – probably early hours Sunday morning) and the Sunday morning again around 10am, or, we could go home Saturday night and fly to Poland Sunday lunchtime in readiness for training on Monday.
It was unanimous that we stayed home and flew out the next day and sacrifice two cryotherapy treatments. Don’t get me wrong, cryotherapy I thought was an excellent tool, and there is research and case studies which support it, as well as my own positive experiences. This is why SW7 Academy have linked with CryoCube in South Wales to bring members exclusive discounts on Cryotherapy treatments. However, in our opinion, it didn’t trump a full nights sleep without travelling into the early hours of the morning.
Its recognised that you need a certain amount of sleep to recover and stay healthy. Sleep duration at night time of 5 hrs or less, was shown to increase the likelihood of the common cold when exposed to the virus to increase by a multiple of 3 compared to 7-8 hours sleep (Prather et al in sleep 2015). Another study stated that 8 hours sleep or more reduced the risk of injury by 61% (von Rosen et al, SJMSS 2016).
What about the effects of sleep restriction on training?
Muscle protein synthesis (muscle building) decreases as a result of sleep restriction (Saner et al. J Phsiol 2020). Also, less than 8 hours sleep was said to increase the chance of injury by x 1.7 compared to those who get 8 hours or more. Sleep on less than 7 hours lead to poorer cognitive performance. Tests for alertness, decision making and reaction time were conducted to prove this. Did you also know that motor leaning processes continue into and throughout subsequent sleep? Exposure to light from electronic devices for 2 hours pre bed, can reduce melatonin levels by 22%. Melatonin is a hormone in your body that aids sleep. All these observations were made by Le Meur, Skien & Duffield In Recovery for Performance in Sport, Human Kinetics, 2013.
So, less sleep means, poorer decision making, reaction time, supressed immune system, increase in likelihood of injury, decreased motor learning and reduction in protein sysnthesis?
So from personal experience, and from reading the data, it seems the sweet spot is somewhere around 8 hours per night. This should not be seen however as a one size fits all, but it should be a good guideline for the majority.
I think you will now understand why we think sleep is one of the single most important methods of recovery!
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