The importance of sleep for any cyclist

Today we’re thinking about sleep. The magic formula for health, performance, and happiness. According to Dr. Matthew Walker, “Sleep is the greatest legal performance-enhancing drug that most people are probably neglecting.” Getting lots of sleep is not lazy, as modern society seems to have labeled it, it’s vital. In an ideal world, we would get at least 8 hours of sleep every night.

When it comes to exercise, studies have shown that with 6 hours of sleep or less you might experience some of the following:

  • Your time to physical exhaustion drops by ~30%
  • Lactic acid builds up quicker with less sleep
  • The ability of your lungs to expire CO2 and inhale O2 decreases

NGNM importance of sleep rest cycling

However, it can be hard to get enough sleep with the stresses and strains of modern life. A very busy job, long commutes and young children, for example, all contribute to reduced sleep time. Our hormones too make it more difficult to get those all-important hours of sleep. According to Dr. Stacy Sims (author of the fantastic book, Roar), as progesterone levels drop during menopause, the number of sleep disturbances rises. According to the National Sleep Foundation, more than 60% of postmenopausal women complain of problems with insomnia.

If 8 hours of sleep is a fantasy, here are a few ways to make sure that when you do sleep, it is great quality sleep.

  • Keep your bedroom cool.
  • Make sure your bedroom is completely dark. Cover small lights, flashing clock faces and make sure your phone isn’t near you.
  • About 1 hour before bed, try to dim all the lights around you and keep screen time to a minimum.
  • Have a hot bath! It’s so relaxing and, when you get out of the water, your body suddenly expels heat, causing a core temperature drop, which is a signal to your body to sleep!
  • Try some of these nutrition-based strategies:
    • Montmorency tart cherry juice – Drink an ice-cold glass 30 mins before bed. The juice is high in melatonin, which promotes sleep and the ice-cold liquid will help your core temperature to drop.
    • Valerian root (tea or capsule) – This herbal supplement enhances deep sleep.

So, let’s make sure we’re looking after ourselves entirely. Giving our wonderful bodies the rest they deserve.

Sleep tight!

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