The Importance of Sleep for Triathletes

author : Team BT
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Why Should Sleep Be Included In Your Endurance Training?

For every athlete, sleep is vitally important for recovery and cell repair from hard workouts and athletic performance. In fact, for you to achieve the benefits of hard training and make progress as an athlete, getting enough sleep is fundamental to your goals.

REM Sleep - The Key to Athletic Recovery

Sleep is the most powerful and effective recovery tool for athletes of all types, and your ability to perform and improve in your sport is as dependent on your sleep as it is on any training and hard work you put into your sport. It is when your body repairs and regenerates damaged tissue and muscles from the day’s workout.

The human body cycles through several sleep stages throughout the night. The stage most important to athletes is rapid eye movement (REM). During REM sleep, the body releases reproductive growth hormone, HGH, which promotes protein synthesis and tissue growth and repair. HGH is a natural hormone produced by the pituitary gland and released into the bloodstream rebuilding damaged tissue while building stronger muscles. This reparative process prepares our bodies for the next workout.

Basically, an athlete’s greatest recovery and repair takes place when resting after a heavy workout, and the greatest amount of physical recovery for endurance athletes comes during the deepest stages of REM sleep.

To access the full benefits of sleep, an average adult should spend between 7-1/2 to 8 hours, if not more, every night. Of course, athletes aren’t “average adults,” and because of the rigors we put our bodies through during the day, they require even more sleep (especially after grueling workouts).

Quality of Sleep vs. Quantity

For endurance athletes, quality of sleep is just as important as quantity for rest and recovery. This is because, to reap the benefits of REM & other stages, you need to sleep through the night without interruption. For the best quality, consider factors including environment, schedule, diet, and travel.

Quality sleep is the most critical element in an athlete’s training. It enables an athlete’s readiness for additional training sessions and lowers their injury risk. When you are rested, your muscles have recovered and you are mentally focused and engaged. With adequate rest, athletes can maintain optimal energy levels during the day and retain focus, clarity, and critical thinking in the most taxing scenarios.

So how do you improve the quality of your sleep as an athlete? Sleep quality is negatively impacted by poor nighttime habits such as cell phone use and drinking certain beverages. “Screen time” should be avoided before bedtime to ensure a more sound and quality sleep, and caffeinated beverages should be avoided 6 hours before sleep.

When your quality of sleep has been compromised, everything from your health, attitude, training, and work are compromised as well. .

Sleep Boosts Athletic Performance

In addition to helping you recover from a workout, quality sleep can boost your performance as well, giving you an edge over the competition.

Even a short nap during the day can have a positive effect on athletic performance. Motor memories, mental clarity, and peak energy are enhanced through daytime naps. Naps enhance the learning of a new skill, helping you add new layers to your game.

On the other hand, a bad night’s sleep can affect everything from your cardiovascular performance to your highest output during exercise. Poor sleep will weaken your immune system putting endurance athletes at risk for infection, colds, and flu after long hours of heavy training.

In the end, all endurance athletes should ask themselves, “Can I afford not to get enough sleep?”

Author Bio: Ryan Skidmore is a writer for Purple, an innovative mattress company located in Utah. He’s a father of 3 active kids and married to a beautiful wife. Ryan loves being active and can’t live without athletic training. He focuses his writing on the latest trends in sports, fitness, and health. For more information on how athletes need to sleep, view this infographic:


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date: June 30, 2018

Team BT