Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Sleep/Stress Relationship in Athletes

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Sleep is extremely important to me – I need to rest and recover in order for the training I do to be absorbed by my body – Usain Bolt

Importance of Sleep

Doubly important to monitor and measure the sleeping habits of athletes

As with every natural cycle, the sleep/wake circadian rhythm is subject to variation, which makes it hard to predict beyond the most general terms. This presents a challenge to athletes, who need to know if they are getting enough sleep to overcome the stress associated with their chosen career. Of course, one of the main symptoms of sleep deprivation is stress and anxiety, which makes it doubly important to monitor and measure the sleeping habits of athletes.

Sleep is huge in my sport. Recovery is the limiting factor, not my ability to run hard. I typically sleep about eight to nine hours a night
– Ryan Hall, Retired endurance runner Team USA

Athletes and trainers need to keep an eye on sleep hygiene

Everyone knows the healing and restorative power of a good night’s sleep. Now that it has been confirmed by science, athletes and their trainers need to keep an eye on sleep hygiene and act when it falls below a certain level. In one study researchers instructed six basketball players to obtain as much extra sleep as possible following two weeks of normal sleep habits. Faster sprint times and increased free-throw accuracy were observed at the end of the sleep extension period. Mood was also significantly improved, with increased vigour and decreased fatigue. The same research group also increased the sleep time of swimmers to 10 h per night for six to seven weeks and reported that 15meter sprint, reaction time, turn time and mood all improved.
Importance of Sleep

The body’s master clock, by which the sleep/wake circadian rhythm is set


To train and perform at peak levels, athlete’s need to take control of their sleep life. Going to bed earlier is an obvious action to take. Avoiding stimulants such as coffee after a certain hour will also help. It’s not easy for an adult to do these things but sacrifices must be made if you want to maintain a competitive edge. Closing off light sources will also help as the body’s master clock, by which the sleep/wake circadian rhythm is set, is influenced by visual cues, such as light or a lack thereof.

Increase your chances of stress-free living and training

The sleep/stress relationship is really a vicious circle: a lack of a proper night’s sleep causes stress and stress in turn prevents a proper night’s sleep. Click To Tweet
The only way to break this cycle is to act against natural inclination and get to bed earlier, avoiding stimulants such as coffee and even light. Making these adjustments to your routine will increase your chances of stress-free living and training.
Improving Sleep Hygiene

Metrifit’s athlete monitoring solution will help to restore that edge

Metrifit’s athlete monitoring solution will help to restore that edge, reinvigorating body and mind through a total overhaul of the body’s sleep/wake system.
A stressed-out athlete will underperform, exhausting him/herself sooner then he/she should, due to reduced energy levels and a blunted competitive edge. Click To Tweet Our lifestyle profiling software is uniquely suited to keep track of an athlete’s sleeping pattern, providing actionable insights in an intuitive interface so that it is clear where the athlete is regarding sleep behavior and where the athlete needs to be.

If you don’t take sleep seriously, you are not taking your athletic career seriously. Sleep is not a luxury. It is an important part of an advanced athlete’s training schedule! – Brendan Duffy, Sleep Technologist

Find out more about Metrifit in this short video where we explain how it works for both the athlete and the coach.

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Sleep and the Elite Athlete | Gatorade Sports Science Institute

Sleep strategies for college and pro athletes during days off | Fatigue Science

Circadian Rhythm | The Sleep Foundation

Educating your athletes about Sleep Hygiene | Metrifit

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