Most swimmers know that nutrition and training are important components of athletic training programs. But what about the importance of sleep for swimmers? This often-overlooked element of your day can enhance or sabotage your athletic performance. So, let’s find out what is the consequences of sleep deprivation to swimmers through the following article!
What sleep deprivation’s effect on swimmers’ performance?
There are plenty of studies highlighting the effects of sleep on athletes and it’s worth considering adding an hour to your total rest period. And there are some consequences that happen when swimmers don’t get enough sleep.
1. The harder you train, the more you need sleep
Rest becomes more important the harder you are training in order to recover adequately between practices. Paradoxically, the harder you train the harder it will be to get the sleep you need as evidenced by this study that found elite athletes display worse sleep markers than non-athletes.
2. Sleep deprivation affects athletes differently
Short, power-based events won’t suffer from a night or two of bad sleep as evidenced with weight-lifters in this study. Endurance or aerobic athletes will experience performance declines after one night of bad sleep though as evidenced here. In both cases, however, psycho-motor function and mood both go sour after one night of bad sleep.
3. Your reaction times are much slower
One study found that after about 16-17 hours of sleep deprivation, your reaction times are 300% slower. This is the same level as being legally drunk, in case you were wondering.
4. Sleep deprivation makes training feel harder
In almost all of the studies covering sleep deprivation athletes reported an increased rate of perceived exertion. In other words, their usual training felt harder than usual because they were sleepy.
5. Sleep deprivation leads to injury and illness
Study after study has shown that sleeping less than six hours per night opens the door to a weakened immune system and increased likelihood of injury because of reduced recovery and general fatigue.
6. Sleep debt accumulates over the season too
Having a couple of bad nights of sleep is no biggie, sleep debt over the course of your season leads to continual performance decline.
What is the importance of sleep?
Sleep is important for all of us. When we don’t get it, it impairs cognitive performance, disturbs glucose metabolism, and appetite regulation. To avoid these negative outcomes, researchers recommend that adults should obtain 8 hours of sleep per night to prevent neurobehavioral deficits.
Sleep provides energy to both the brain and body and if sleep is cut short, the body doesn’t have time to repair memory, consolidate memory, and release hormones. For swimmers, in particular, Non-REM sleep is important for recovery since this is the time when the body releases growth hormones, which provide optimum conditions for anabolism, or energy storage.
How can you get better sleep at night?
1. Get on a regular schedule. It’s a good idea to wake up and go to bed at the same time every day.
2. Avoid caffeine and alcohol. Besides sabotaging your nutrition goals, they’ll negatively impact your sleep quality.
3. Stay away from sleep medications. Since you want to be careful what types of medications you’re putting in your body during training, try to avoid sleeping pills that will ultimately disturb your performance the next day.
4. If you’re traveling for a meet or competition, try and get to your new destination as early as possible to get adjusted to the new time zone and sleep schedule.
5. Avoid watching TV or using the computer in bed. Leave the work and entertainment at your desk and head to bed with a clear mind.
With just the 5 tips above, we hope you’ll get a better night’s sleep so your body can recover and heal faster.