If you think that lack of sleep is not a big problem for an athlete because you can easily sleep the day before the start, that’s not entirely true. In fact, not at all.
Sleep and neurobiology experts and somnologists note that sleep deficits tend to accumulate when deprivation of adequate hours of rest becomes systematic. For the majority of modern people, the lack of sleep becomes chronic and its weekly deficit averages up to 15 hours.
Some studies have shown that lack of sleep has only a slight effect on muscle performance, in contrast to reaction speed and mental ability, which suffer quite a lot.
However, even if this is true, the final athletic performance is still impaired by psychological effects, such as a change in the perception of exertion levels, a lowering of the will threshold and uncontrolled replacement of positive thoughts with negative ones. Simply put, the likelihood of a bad mood increases dramatically.
Chronic sleep deprivation causes quite physiological problems. The stress hormone cortisol, which is known as the athlete’s enemy, heats up and lowers levels of another hormone, testosterone, provoking loss of muscle mass and contributing to fat accumulation. When cortisol levels are critically high, you are actually forcing your body to train and rest in a constant catabolic state.
The recovery process in such a situation is extremely difficult, and this means that not only will there be no progress in training, but the opposite situation develops, carrying the risk of a decrease in immunity and the risk of a standard set of injuries to the runner. And all this against a background of increasingly frequent mood swings with a predominance of negative mental states.
Such cases, of course, go far beyond the above-mentioned experiment (when only mild sleep deprivation was studied) and seriously reduce muscle performance and endurance of the whole body. But, nevertheless, such situations are common.
Runners, cyclists and other cyclical athletes are less aware of, or rather experience, sleep deprivation and the resulting changes in mental or mental state at the expense of the satisfaction of their workouts, in abundance producing the joy hormones serotonin and endorphin.
But if the growth rate has suddenly stopped, the average heart rate has increased, or the recovery has slowed down, it is possible that these are symptoms of sleep deprivation. And you’d better add another hour to your sleep time at least during the week immediately before the marathon.
Of course, all this could also be because you are simply getting older, which is natural for living beings. But then a healthy and restful sleep should be an even more valuable innovation to your routine.