Sleep to perform

By François Bieuzen, Exercice Physiologist

61%. Do you know what this number refers to?

 

It is the probability of reducing risk of injury in high-performance teenage athletes when they sleep an average of more than eight hours per night during the week. This figure from a recent study is impressive and shows how much sleep on a daily basis is an issue for the health of athletes and therefore their performances. Is this new information? No! Everyone knows that getting enough quality sleep is necessary to perform. Do we do it? Unfortunately much too rarely. However, for many of us, it would not be that difficult to add a little structure to our daily routine. Ensuring the room is dark, without noise, maintained at a temperature of 18-19° C would be a good start. Adding regularity to sleeping and waking schedules (including the weekend) as well as a bedtime routine would further increase the chances of sleeping well. Finally, limiting the use of screens the hour before bedtime and adding filters or filtering glasses would certainly have an added beneficial effect on the quality of sleep. At INS, particular attention is given to these issues. Regularly, we offer athletes at the Institut group information meetings, one-on-one meetings as well as objective assessments of their sleep in order to sensitize and support them in their path as high-performance athletes.

 

But today, we do not stop there. If sleeping is very important, being awake is just as much. Since our athletes travel across the globe to international competitions, they must deal with the challenges of long-distance travel and crossing multiple time zones. In order to facilitate their adaptation, we established individualized strategies to ensure they are their most awake at the moment of the competition. Therefore, for the Olympic short track speed skating team, we took advantage of the World Cup in Asia to measure each athlete’s response to travel and jet lag. We wanted to answer questions such as: how long did they take to adapt? Who is more or less sensitive to jet lag? etc. To do this, athletes wore a medical watch measuring their activity and sleep. Upon returning, everything was analyzed and strategies were implemented for the Olympic Games. Consequently, in the days leading up to the departure, the athletes will sleep more than usual in order to create a “sleep bank.”

Cédrik Blais, Short track speed skating athlete testing of the medical watch and the sunglasses indoors!

Then, they will have personalized advice for the trip and light therapy equipment or, on the contrary, sunglasses that they will use upon their arrival, according to their individualized plan, to increase the chances of being awake at the end of the day during competitions.

 

Do not be surprised to see them wearing sunglasses indoors at unusual times. This is neither a whim nor a trend, just one of many strategies that the team has adopted to leave nothing to chance and increase the probability of winning!

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