Dreams have recently released a new M Line range of pillows and mattresses, which are recommended by top athletes and physiotherapists because of the comfort and support they offer, which aids any aches and sprains. To celebrate the release of this new range, we look at the importance of sleep for your body and interview top athletes Victoria Pendleton and Joe Root regarding their sleep schedule.
Why sleep is an important part of training
A good night’s sleep is integral but even more so if you’re particularly athletic. Sleeping is an important aspect of every training schedule and receiving an inadequate amount of sleep will only halt performance. Sometimes missing out on that early morning run in favour of another hour in bed will actually benefit your progress much more.
In order to rest and repair it’s important to account for enough time sleeping. Even Stage 1 sleep, which occurs for only 5% of the night, is associated with tightly packed brain wave patterns which are directly linked to muscle memory and remembering movements. During Stage 2 Human Growth Hormone, also known as HGH, is released which increases the growth of muscle tissue and regulates metabolism.
This stage is essentially growing your muscles and processing your daily intake so if you want to excel athletically it’s crucial you account for rest such as this. HGH also floods your system during Stage 3 sleep, which is also the time of night when prolactin begins to work on calming any inflamed joints you may have.
Finally, in Stage 4, extra oxygen is directed to the muscles which breaks down lactic acid, which can cause muscle pain in the aftermath of a workout. Minor muscle tears are also fixed, allowing you to carry on training the next day. Altogether, the processes that the body undergoes during a full night’s of sleep are so essential to achieving excellent athletic performance that to try to go without them will only hamper success.
What Victoria Pendleton and Joe Root Had to Say
Interviewing former track cyclist and jockey Victoria Pendleton, we discovered she tries to get a least 8 hours of sleep a night, though this was extended to as much as 11 hours a night while training as an athlete for the Olympics. Her record amount of sleep was in fact 14 hours through a very hard training phase.
Despite her enthusiasm for sleep, she finds it harder to sleep during competitions due to anxiety. She states:
‘I have had many sleepless nights before a competition but not normally down to my comfort, usually down to my nerves. But I think when you’re nervous it is harder to sleep, so you have to make use of the weeks running into competition and know that it’s going to be a little bit unsettled the night before, but that’s only because you want to do so well and it means a lot to you’.
Pendleton recommends using a specialist mattress, especially after a bad injury. ‘In the past I have used special mattresses and pillows to help alleviate pain or discomfort to ensure that you get a good night’s sleep and I think that’s a very important thing to do’.
While interviewing Joe Root, we discovered he suffers from the same competition anxiety as Pendleton, claiming ‘in competition I sleep terribly really’. He also regards sleep as very important, however he achieves roughly 6-7 hours a night, expressing ‘ideally a little bit more would be nice’.
Unsurprisingly, Root is a healthy eater, with his go-to breakfast being avocado on toast with poached eggs and smoked salmon. He says however, that his ultimate midnight snack, if he had no restrictions, would be a tub of ice cream, whereas Pendleton would opt for chocolate cake.