Most cyclists want to cycle faster and for longer, Some go to great lengths and expense to achieve this. There’s lots of euros spent on coaches, training camps, bikes and equipment, nutritional supplements, gym memberships.
And all of these are very important but there is one thing that the modern cyclist may be neglecting.
This is something that has a huge effect on performance and well being that is free. The secret ingredient is the right amount of good quality sleep.
In my experience there seems to be far less emphasis on getting the correct amount and quality of sleep by a lot of coaches and cyclist’s now compared to not so many years ago.
Why you should get good quality sleep
Sleep is the great natural recovery modality when body and mind repairs itself from the rigours of the day.
Anabolic Hormones surge
during sleep Anabolic hormones are released, muscle tissue damage from training is repaired.
The brain refreshes and deals with all the strains and workloads it has dealt with.
Even Shakespeare was very aware of this when writing Macbeth
Methought I heard a voice cry ‘Sleep no more! Macbeth does murder sleep,
’ the innocent sleep, Sleep that knits up the ravell’d sleave of care, The death of each day’s life, sore labour’s bath, Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course, Chief nourisher in life’s feast.
-William Shakespeare, Macbeth
Professional cycling teams
Professional cycling teams go to great lengths in getting training camp accommodation in quiet and comfortable surroundings where riders can get good rest.
Lifestyles have changed, the internet, social media can be a distraction. With athletes texting, emailing, using Facebook, blogging late into the evening.
This can all be be done from home, or the hotel room when on races and can be a serious distraction from rest and recovery.
Too little sleep means less recovery and adaptation. So hard training can be wasted.
Over-training (or under recovery) can occur from poor sleep. When this happens the rider will fail to adapt and get stronger from training loads.
Blue light from screens affect sleep
Why you shouldn’t use screens phone and tablet screens before sleep. Heres a very detailed link from Harvard Medical about the effects of blue screens on sleep.
Discipline and good sleep routine
The body responds best to a routine for sleep. There’s a simple guide as to whether you are getting enough sleep or not.
You should be refreshed after a night’s sleep, if you are constantly waking up tired try getting to bed earlier.
Switch phones off or mute them,
Go to bed around the same time each night
Try to get short naps of about twenty minutes during the day if possible
Do a review on your sleep is there any aspect that can be improved. An extra 30 to 60 minutes a day could make a huge difference.
At the very least aim to have some early nights in the few days before major races.
Its free improvements. But have you the discipline to get to bed early instead of looking at a favourite TV show, or going out on late nights with friends?
If you want to get to the very top of the sport sleep is going to be a major part of your preparation and some things may have to be sacrificed.
It’s as simple as that! Champions have been doing it forever!
Paddy Doran level 3 Cycling Coach www.peakendurancecoaching.com