A college athlete of mine recently asked me about the importance of sleep. He has a busy school, work and social schedule. His sleep was starting to suffer and he wanted to know if sleep was really that important to his endurance goals.
Coach Chris’s response:
I emphasized to my athlete just how important proper sleep is. Growth hormone is released during sleep and there is added hormone production when sleep is extended past normal ranges. On the flip side, a two hour reduction to one’s normal sleep pattern is equivalent to consuming enough alcohol to register a .05 blood alcohol level. While the average adult gets 7 to 7.5 hours of sleep daily, there have been recent studies done on athletes that show enormous benefits to athletic performance when they are able to get 10 hours of sleep per night. ESPN even did a story where they stated that sleep is the “magic pill” for athletic performance.
I mentioned to my athlete that there are many devices on the market today that track the amount and quality of sleep. I, personally, use the Timex Move X20 to track my daily sleep patterns. I find that it really helps me stay more consistent. I’m also able to better understand my energy levels on a daily basis.
LifeSport Coach Chris Thomas has over 10 years of coaching experience and is USAT certified. Chris is also an Ironman 70.3 World Champion (M40-44). He enjoys working with athletes of all levels. Contact Chris to tackle your first triathlon or to perform at a higher level. Find more tips on Twitter@LifeSportCoach.
Career Highlights: 2009 USA Triathlon Amateur Athlete of the Year, 2012,2013, 2014 USA Triathlon Masters Athlete of the Year, 2014 USA Triathlon Olympic National Championship Masters Champion, 4 X Ironman 70.3 World Championship Age Group Winner (2008, 2009, 2012, 2013), 18 X 70.3 Overall Amateur Champion, 9 X Ironman World Champion Finisher (4 X Top 10 in Age Group), 2015 American Zofingen LC Champion, 2nd OA IM Maryland
I started competing in triathlon in the summer of 2000. I had always been intrigued by the sport since the early ‘80s when I would watch the Hawaii Ironman on TV. I got into running at a young age (6yrs old) as my father was a big marathon runner back in the late 70’s, early 80’s running boom. I did my first 10-mile road race when I was 10 years old. I also played ice hockey throughout my childhood and I stopped running my sophomore year in high school in order to completely focus on ice hockey. I did not run again until the fall of 1999. During that race, a friend of mine mentioned that he competed in sprint triathlons, short duration races lasting around one hour. I was immediately interested and I signed up for my first triathlon in July of 2000 up in Falmouth, Ma. I was immediately hooked. I loved the competition. I especially liked the aspect of the three sports and how one could continue to practice and improve in each sport. I believe all three sports compliment each other. I also really enjoyed the idea of challenging myself to see where I could get. So, while triathlon is a competition, I see it more as a race against yourself then others. It is a very addictive sport, but I think it’s probably one of the healthiest addictions that I know of. The training is also a great stress relief. I worked in New York City for the past 5 years and down on Wall Street for 2 years. The commute and the lifestyle can get pretty stressful at times. The training really helped me de-stress and stay focused. I have three little boys and I really enjoy sharing the sport with all three of them. I don’t care if they ever compete in a race, but I do believe it’s important to expose them to healthy opportunities in life. I would say that the hardest endurance scenario I’ve faced was actually the first half ironman I competed in up in Laconia, NH, which was the Timberman race. I’ve completed four full Ironman events, but that half ironman was my first attempt at the distance. I feel, in hindsight, that I just was not properly trained for the event. It was an incredible eye opening experience. I don’t think I’ve been more tired then the moment I crossed that finish line. However, the human mind is fascinating, as I was looking forward to the next race less then 24 hours after.