TWEAKING SLEEP

If you are in the midst of training, it might pay to listen to your body and set your alarm clock accordingly. Being awoken by an alarm 30 minutes into a 90-minute cycle will result in greater feelings of drowsiness than if you were woken up 30 minutes earlier, at the end of your last sleep cycle, and a drowsy athlete is an underperforming one, says Professor Jobson.

He advises that planning your sleep around these minute cycles can be an effective training tool. Try downloading a sleep-monitoring app, such as Sleep Cycle (sleepcycle. com) that monitors your sleep and wakes you up in your lightest phase of sleep.

So what time of day should you exercise? Athletic performance has been shown to peak at certain times of the day. Aerobic capacity and body temperature appear to peak during the evening, while mental-task performance appears to peak late morning/early afternoon and a correlation can be seen between sporting world records and times of the day, with more set in the evening, explains Jobson.

If you have woken up and are feeling groggy or do not feel like you have had enough sleep, it may also be time to listen to your body and skip the training session until another day when you feel more restored. Being less alert, because of a lack of sleep, an athlete may take unnecessary risks, for example lifting loads that are too heavy, explains Jobson.

We’ve lost the ability to listen to our bodies and tend to use quick fixes instead of addressing the root-cause of our tiredness, hunger and mood, says Dr Meadows. Having a poor night’s sleep and feeling stressed, then getting up at 5.30am to go to the gym is not doing us any favours, he adds. Allowing flexibility in your fitness routine is essential.

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TWEAKING SLEEP

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