How to get the best health and performance: sleep on it!
The research is compelling on why I should coach sleep. Coach sleep? What’s that mean? Well, I had the good fortune of listening to Brandon Marcello https://www.brandonmarcellophd.com/, PhD, speak about that very topic the other day. The title of his lecture was “Sleep: The Only True “Fix-All” of Health & Performance.”
Hmm….you know what they say about “fix-all”s….
His essential assertion is that fatigue – resulting from inadequate sleep- affects 4 major areas:
- Reaction Time
- Overall Performance, and
- Career Longevity.
This sounds like it applies to athletes, and it definitely does, but it also applies to every human. For example, every human needs good reaction time while driving a car, every human needs to be able to recover fully from one day to give the next day their all, and no human wants decreased overall performance! Finally, every human wants career longevity, wether it applies to how long you can stay outside and garden to whether you can chase your children or grandchildren around. No one wants to cut those activities short or not be able to do them as long as they would like!
That makes you feel old. Ugh. No one wants that!
SO…how’s your sleep going?
Not enough zzzs can have a whole bunch of ramifications, including reduced pain threshold, increased risk of injury and illness, reduced physical and psychological performance, decreased motivation, learning ability, and memory.
You have poor judgement of speed, time, and distance. Your penchant for mistakes, anxiety, and irritability goes up, as well as INCREASES IN BODY FAT PERCENTAGES.
I thought this was really interesting: The greatest disasters in the history of the world have all occurred as a result of sleep deprivation. Think Exxon Valdez, Chernobyl, and 3 Mile Island as excellent examples.
This poses several questions:
- Do you get enough sleep, and how much do you need
- Can you pay back sleep you’ve lost, and
- Is there ever a cap on how much sleep you’ve lost?
Let’s think about this: Do you get enough sleep, and how much do you need? The answer is YES, you can get enough sleep, and how much you need is determined by you. You can’t determine how much sleep you need until you pay back all the sleep you’ve lost – your sleep debt.
Sleep debt caps at 50 hours, and the way to eliminate all sleep debt is to sleep 10+ hours a night for 3 weeks straight. Dr. Marcello said that most people tap out when they hear that is what it takes to eliminate sleep debt. However, if you successfully complete stage one, then stage two is to try sleeping 8 hours that night. The daytime test of enough sleep is to simply notice if you yawn between noon and 3:30pm.
Do you yawn between noon & 3:30? Yes or no?
If Yes, eight hours is not enough, and you try sleeping 8.5 hours the next night, and take the yawn test the next day. If no, then 8 hours is enough, and you can try sleeping 7.5 hours the next night, followed by the yawn test, if you yawn with 7.5 hours, then you’re back to 8 hours.
See how this goes?
That is what determines the perfect amount of sleep for you. You must experiment on yourself!
Apparently some people argued that they yawned between noon and 3:30 due to what they had for lunch…you know, a piece of coworker’s birthday cake and a Diet Coke. However, someone did a study with 45 different diet variations and determined the yawn was not from what you ate, but instead, how much sleep you got.
Dang. Can’t blame a carb or caffeine crash.
Athletes + research
Dr. Marcello happened to be at Stanford doing research on athletes, and these are some of the findings when they eliminated sleep debt:
Swimmers were 8% improved in 15m sprint speed, 20% improved in their reaction time off the block, and 10% increase in turn time efficiency.
Basketball players showed 9.2% increase in 3 point shooting accuracy and 9% increase in free throw accuracy. In addition, every athlete liked to be at practice and everybody was improving.
80 Major League Baseball Players were grouped in three categories:
Group 1 had good sleep habits.
Group 2 had trouble falling asleep, or woke up in the middle of the night a few times.
Group 3 had severe sleep issues- insomnia or sleep apnea.
After 3 years:
72% of Group 1 was still in the MLB, 39% of Group 2 still played, and only 14% of Group 3 was still playing. All due to sleep!
Sleep patterns of college age military cadets were studied over four years. On average, most military cadets get less than 5 hours of sleep a night. When cadets’ sleep opportunity increased from 6 hours/night to 8 hours/night, GPAs went up 11%.
A final fact: 24 year old healthy men who slept less than 5 hours a night FOR A WEEK registered a 15% drop in testosterone. That’s like aging 15 years.
I could go on and on!
The takeaway? Don’t just get some sleep….Get lots of sleep! It is surely the tipping point for a more vibrant, healthier you!
Let me know what you think about all this sleep stuff in the comments below. I’ll get back to you later- I’m off to take a nap. 😉