Are You Getting Enough Sleep To Support A Sporty Lifestyle?

image1.jpgNew Zealanders like to think of ourselves as a pretty sporty nation – we put our elite athletes on pedestals, turn out in droves to watch all manner of competition and tend to enjoy an outdoorsy lifestyle.

But just because people are fit and healthy work out or train more, doesn’t mean they’re getting a healthy dose of sleep at night, according to latest research.

The main study was made in Australia last year by a team from the Appleton Institute for Behavioural Science at Central Queensland University, who, on the back of believing sleep to be an essential part of any athlete’s recovery because of its benefit to both the mind and the body’s restorative functions, carried out research on 124 elite sportsmen and women. Even during periods when the athletes were training, they tended to get on average only 6.8 hours of sleep per night and individual sportsmen and women woke earlier and got less sleep than those competing in team sports.

Writing in November’s British Medical Journal, one of the report’s authors Shona L Halson said it was important that “sleep should be one of the foundations of an athlete’s training programme”.

Sleep deprivation can influence athletic performance, cognition, reaction time, immune function and pain perception, but it appears that scientists have only recently started to give research in athletes’ sleep the attention it deserves. And for those Kiwis who enjoy travelling around New Zealand during our summer months to compete in the many marathons, half-marathons, Iron Men contests and triathlons on offer, Halson had an additional warning.

Often our obligations do not correspond with when we would like to be asleep. For athletes this may be due to training, travel and/or competition times. Anecdotally many athletes also view sleep as a flexible commodity that can be exchanged for activities that are viewed as either more important or more enjoyable.

Halson went on to argue that athletes were perfect candidates to experience a “perfect storm” for sleep debt because of their schedules, use of electronic devices and attitudes to sleep combined with the stresses and strains of competing.

And for many of these people, there may well be a knock-on effect in terms of both performance and general wellbeing.

At Bedpost, we understand the importance of a good eight-hour sleep for those living a healthy and active lifestyle – especially those performing at the top of their game. For more information on finding the best way to a comfortable night’s sleep, contact your nearest Bedpost store and talk to a sleep expert on testing and experiencing the right mattress, pillow and base combination for your personal requirements. For more information contact us on 0800 233 767 or Live Chat or email us via the website.