Swimmers: Here’s Why Sleep is Important!

Schools, colleges and classes have begun in full swing for most. A full day continues to seem like just a few hours and balancing academics, submissions, extra-curricular activities and swimming of course seems crazier than ever! The easy way out for most is to crunch sleeping time to pave way for all the other activities to fit in.

But here’s why you should stay in bed for longer!

  • In a study on basketball players from Stanford University, extended sleep proved to significantly improve sprint performance along with shooting accuracy (Mah et al).
  • Athletes who get less than 8 hours of sleep at night have an injury risk of 1.7 times than those who sleep 8 or more hours (Milewski MD et al).
  • Exercise reduces energy availability, causes muscle breakdown and depletes body fluids. Although good nutrition before, during and after training forms a crucial part of recovery, sleep deprivation increases cortisol levels (stress hormone) that may deplete carbohydrate reserves which might cause fatigue and lead to poor focus.
  • Poor sleep can cause poor concentration at school as well at swimming sessions with poor strategy planning, performance evaluation and goal setting.
  • Restricted sleep impairs hormone balance causing a rise in ghrelin (hunger hormone) and drop in leptin (satiety hormone) leading to more hunger and poor satiety signals (NHLBI).
  • Good quality & quantity of sleep is required to release growth hormone which is crucial to promote growth and rapid tissue development especially in children and adolescents (NHLBI)
  • The hormone melatonin released during sleep aids in recovery, boosting immunity and is responsible to fight oxidative stress formed during intense training sessions.
  • Including 15-20 min naps throughout the day after a night of restricted sleep can lead to increased alertness and improved sprint performance (Waterhouse et al).
  • At least 7-9 hours of sleep is required for athletes for ample physical, physiological and cognitive recovery and repair, however this range is subjective (Marshall G, Turner A).

Sleep better with these tips:

  • Melatonin release is subject to dark and light sensitivity; a dark environment promotes its transmission.
  • Ensure there is a quiet environment and fix a daily consistent sleeping routine.
  • Avoid coffee and caffeine containing foods post evening.
  • Avoid the use of gadgets just before sleeping as the light may delay melatonin release and thus promotion of good quality sleep.
  • Short 30 minute naps are adequate to recover quickly from a compromised sleep.

Author: Mihira A R Khopkar

B.Sc. Dietetics, M.Sc. Sports Nutrition


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SwimIndia does not guarantee results of any sort, before making any changes to your diet plans, please consult an expert.

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