Time change and Benefits of Sleep

This time change is killing me.  I have lost an hour of sleep and I didn’t realize how much I needed that one more hour.  Of course, this time change does have one benefit; it stays lighter longer, which results in more time riding.  However, this time change and my sleepiness got me thinking about the benefits of getting a good night’s rest and your racing/training.  The two go hand and hand.  You can train, eat and ride like a champion, but if you don’t get enough sleep, all of that is going to waste.

As most people know, sleep help repairs the body at night.  On your rest days, when you don’t ride or hit the gym, you still subject your body through damage.  Although this damage is not significant, your body needs to repair the damage in order for you to perform at an optimum level.  Sleep is even more important when you do train or ride because more abuse is taken.  As your body sleeps, it goes into“hibernation” so the repairs can be made.  As tissue is broken down or lots of energy are expelled, your body’s “batteries” are recharged.  Children need to get plenty of rest because growth hormones are released night and provide strong bone, muscle and brain function.

Speaking of brain function, a lack of sleep can also lead to a lack of concentration and focus.  Researchers have found that neurons in the nervous system (i.e. your brain and nerves) shut down and repair themselves.  Without enough sleep, these neurons wear down and get overused.  In addition, waste products build up and hamper the function of the neurons.  It is almost like leaving a dirty air filter on your bike…you gotta keep it clean!

For adults, 7 to 8 hours has been found to the right amount.  For kids under 18, they need more than adults; 9 hours is a pretty safe bet.

Here’s a couple tips to help you adjust to the new time change, even if you haven’t done so yet:

Don’t take naps – get through the day and you will sleep like a baby all night and get up feeling much better

Go to bed an hour early – you may miss a few shows on TV, but tricking yourself into bed early will be like going to bed regularly before the time change.

Drink a glass of milk or take a hot shower – this will help get your body to slow down and start to get tired.

Posted on Mar 15 2010, under Training | No Comments »

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