I recently wrote about how the first part of training is actually sleeping. Even though I’m writing this in the middle of the night and have to get up early tomorrow, I’ll be a hypocrite and write a little bit more about the topic of sleep…
I have recently started re-reading a great book called “The Sleep Thieves: An Eye-Opening Exploration of the Science and Mysteries of Sleep” by Stanley Coren (published by The Free Press in 1996). In this book Dr Coren reviews many different studies and experiments analyzing our need for sleep, including the relationship between athletic performance and sleep.
Here are some of the highlights that come up again and again in every study:
- That in western society most people are chronically sleep deprived
- That sleep deprivation has a negative effect on health, mood, learning ability, athletic performance, and many other important factors
- That the more you exercise you get, the more sleep you need
- That the optimal amount of sleep for regular people is 9 to 10 hours per night.
Yes you read that correctly: 9 to 10 hours of sleep per night. I find this interesting because we all assume that the gold standard is 8 hours. Even if you were sleeping 8 hours each and every night you would probably STILL be sleep deprived.
The take-home message is that there is no guilt or shame in sleeping more, or having that mid-day nap. Try to do it: your body and spirit will thank you for it.