How much sleep does a triathlete need?

When training for an endurance event such as a triathlon, good quality sleep is as essential as balanced nutrition and physical training. Many athletes would recommend sleeping up to 12 hours rather than the minimum 8. Even expert coaches recommend sleeping as it’s your main source of rest.

So, here are the top reasons why sleeping well matters so much for triathletes.

Resting Improves Performance

It’s no secret that triathlons involve long distances and the time that it takes to finish them. Athletes need lots of energy to complete them and scientific studies have proven that deficient rest levels take severe tolls on performance.

For example, when athletes sleep badly, it affects the cardiovascular performance and oxygen consumption levels to the peak power output during exercise.

Increases Recovery

When you swim, cycle or run, your muscles don’t get stronger or faster. That physical adaptation actually takes place when you rest after exercising.

According to physical activity guru and Fitbit ambassador Greg Whyte, “the greatest amount of physical recovery comes during stage 4 and REM sleep – essentially very deep sleep.”  

Leads to a slimmer physique

What many triathletes ignore is that rest quality can have a major impact on appetite. A good night’s sleep has been proven to limit the release of a hormone that makes you feel hungry (ghrelin) and increase a hormone that makes you feel full (leptin).

This is particularly beneficial as the less body mass there is to accelerate, the more efficiently you can run and cycle.

How can you improve sleep?

There are many things to do in order to have a better sleep quality. The first thing to do is making all the pertinent arrangements to improve your sleeping environment. For instance, try to block out all the light: install dark curtains and remove any kind of electronic device.

You can also ensure sleep quality by sticking to a bedtime routine. Use alarms or sleep monitoring apps if they can facilitate this process.

Additionally, try to avoid any drinks (coffee or alcohol) that might disrupt your sleeping patterns.

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