Sleep loss and accumulated sleep debt can impair our physical performance, particularly when there is a strong cognitive component associated to the activity. However, its impact is dependent on a variety of factors including individual variability, the type of training and sport as well as training familiarity and habit.
Although extra time in bed over the weekend can help to alleviate some of the accumulated sleep dept, continuous misalignment of our circadian rhythm through recurring social jet lag, much like the effects of shift work, not only increases daytime sleepiness and is a contributing factor to the Monday Blues, but has also shown to increase risk of cardiovascular disease, metabolic disease, and even cancer.
Insufficient sleep is most commonly a result of a late bedtime and/or early wake time, or difficulties falling asleep or staying asleep throughout the night. Although one or two hours of sleep loss may not appear to be significant, there is an cumulative effect when repeated each night which can lead to devastating effects on our performance, our health, our waistline and much more.
Chronotype refers to the preferred timing throughout the day-night period for when we sleep, as well as for activities and performance during wakefulness. It is most popularly defined into two categories: Morning types (larks) and Evening types (owls).
Bright lights in the morning will not only generate an alerting affect in the brain, but will also help to strengthen and shift our circadian rhythm making for a better sleep-wake cycle.
Although technology has many perks and advantages, it is important to be weary of how both environmental lighting conditions and the use of electronic devices in the evening can affect the timing and the quality of our sleep. Bright lights and screen time in the evening before bed have been shown to disrupt our circadian rhythm (our internal biological clock), including the production of melatonin, our night-time hormone. By reducing light exposure in the evening, our bodies will be able follow their natural pattern to transition from wake to sleep.
It is commonly mentioned to avoid bright lights and screen time before bed in order to achieve better sleep. This is because the eyes have a direct connection to the structure of the brain that regulates our circadian rhythm, our internal biological clock.
Although caffeine has been shown to be beneficial for cognitive functions, attention and performance, particularly in sleep deprived states, it is important to be aware of its dose and timing. Caffeine consumption in the late afternoon and evening can interfere with both the quantity and quality of our night-time sleep.
Caffeine has direct action on the wake promoting system in our brain and is a popular and widely used stimulant. However, depending on individual sensitivity to caffeine in our system, it can also impact the quality and quantity of our night-time sleep.
Lack of sleep modulates two hormones that regulate our appetite: leptin and ghrelin.
Having a stable and consistent sleep-wake schedule will not only help you sleep better, but also reduce the negative effects of inadequate sleep on your health and performance.
As our bodies accumulate stress and tension throughout the day, light stretching or gentle yoga can help reduce this stress before to bed. Slowing down your breathing by taking deep long breaths will also help calm down your sympathetic nervous system, making it easier for your body to relax and fall asleep.