The Importance of Sleep

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For kids with early bedtimes, there always seems to be that one TV show that comes on just a little too late at night to watch on a school night.

For me, that show – and I’m sure I’m going to date myself here – was Alias (any Sydney Bristow fans out there?). It aired at 9 pm on Sunday nights. Which was just a liiittle bit too late when your alarm goes off at 3:45 am for swim practice the next morning. Especially when your parents keep harping on you about how you “need to get some rest.”

Now that I’m an adult however, I stay up as late as I want to watch any TV show I want and I couldn’t care less about sleep.

HA! No I don’t. I go to sleep as early as I can. And I still get up at 3:45 am every morning. If I could be in bed and ready to go to sleep by 7:45 pm every night I would be the happiest camper in the campsite.

The older I get the more I miss having a built in nap time to my day. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love sleep and my body craves it. As I get older I notice the difference more and more between a good night’s sleep and one that is lacking.

I’m going to keep this short and sweet (like a stack of pancakes! Ha! I’m too good sometimes). Sleep is incredibly important to keeping your body healthy, recovering faster, and making progress in your training. It’s as simple as that.

The less sleep you get, the worse you will perform. In any aspect of life. Everyone knows this, don’t pretend you don’t. But it’s very easy to forget since human beings do such an amazing job of being able to go through the motions in their day to day routines on extremely low amounts of sleep.

Getting sleep and proper rest is even more important to your training than your workouts. I know it might sound weird, but It’s true. If you constantly run yourself into the ground and don’t let your body and your muscles recover, you won’t progress.

People who are getting less rest than their body needs to recover will inevitably have dwindling performances due to their lack of sleep and the effects that has on them. Think 6 hours of sleep is sufficient? It’s not. A minimum of 8 hours is what’s required for most people out there. And as athletes, we need even more than that.

Two of our clients above the age of 50, who get the proper amount of sleep and rest their bodies need, are currently performing better than any of our clients between the ages of 13 and 16. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. They are taking care of themselves and allowing their bodies to heal as opposed to beating them down with more training and more yardage in the pool. And I’m not just pulling this information out of thin air. We track these clients’ sleep patterns, resting heart rates, and heart rate variability as part of a performance optimization service we offer at SwimBox. Because these clients have us pay attention to these factors, they know when they need to get more sleep. And their swimming is paying off from it.

Want to watch that show on TV? You have a DVR. If you don’t, it’s 2018 and the internet exists, it’s hard not to find TV shows online nowadays. Stuck in a loop on Netflix? STOP. Netflix is like that clingy significant other we’ve all had at some point, it’s not going anywhere.

Like I said, short and sweet. Now everyone go take a nap.

Lissa Henderson, TriSwim Coash