Sleeping is cheating. Or is it?
A Claire Hammon investigation
In a world that relentlessly shifts between sleep to wake states, rest is just part of the natural cycle. We rise, we shine, we rest. Or so I thought. After a week of marathon sleeping sessions between 10 and 12 hours, I thought I needed to investigate why my body seemed intent to boycott week five of my 16 week programme towards my first triathlon. Apart from winter rains, freezing temperatures and late nights spent following the excitement on Twitter. Of course.
Your sleeping environment plays an indisputably important role and in summary, and across all sources, there is general consensus that a good night’s rest is affected by three simple factors, namely: light, temperature and noise. The darker the room, keeping the temperature cooler rather than warmer and eliminating as much noise as is possible will positively affect your rest.
As a person whose productivity and personality go hand in hand with the number of hours I’ve managed to squeeze in between sunrises and –sets, I discovered that there is in fact no right answer as to the perfect number of hours of sleep per night required. Less is not more, despite the Margaret Thatcher theories, nor is more considered less. Everyone has different sleep requirements. Covered across many of the sites was the statement that getting extra sleep over an extended period of time improves athletic performance, mood and alertness – an interesting point to take into consideration.
What is referred to as ‘sleep debt’, where a good night’s rest is missed, can not be recovered and should be kept to a minimum. There’s no such thing as catching up on sleep, so forget about binging on it as you lie in on rest days. Maintaining a regular sleep and awake schedule is key.
Armed with a cool little iPhone app (another night lost to sleep), I was able to track my sleeping pattern to review and test run the above findings, and have managed to get my sleep efficiency from 58% to 97%. Back on the training schedule with an energy pumped body that ticks off the daily training requirements I can rest easy. Rest is important. In and out of the training schedule. Keep it in mind!