We all now that sleeping is a key factor of sport performance. Not sleeping enough will deteriorate the quality of the training and the recovery process. Many rowing coaches don’t understand why their athletes don’t improve or don’t get the same scores or improvements as other years having the same training program and talented rowers. There are many reasons that can cause that like motivation or recovery/sleep process. Rowers in college that practice early on the morning have big problems with that. It is hard to go to bed early. There is too much school work. There is no time to do it all and get enough sleep. We all know that student athletes are always tired and falling asleep everywhere. But what are the REAL CONSEQUENCES of not getting enough sleep?
Is sleep as important as they say?
How much is my TEAM really getting affected by the lack of hours of sleep?
Sleep can impact performance in three main ways:
1. Lost sleep reduces the performance of the cerebral cortex in the frontal lobe of the brain which is responsible for the most important mental functions in sport- focus, concentration, flexibility, decision making and information processing.
2. The very deep or Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep helps consolidate activities, tasks and skills undertaken that day. It is indispensable for helping motor learning and skill acquisition.
3. Sleep is a significant stimulator of growth hormone release – the body’s natural agent for cell growth and reproduction. In addition to acting to increase muscle mass, growth hormone also stimulates the immune system. Sleep deprivation raises levels of the stress hormone Cortisol which may interfere with tissue repair and growth.
Now after reading those 3 MAIN WAYS that lack of sleep can affect your rowers, understand how important it is to monitor that and motivate your rowers to go to bed earlier. Maybe you as a coach need to reduce early morning practices on busy times to let them rest more. If you don’t sleep enough for few days all that can get way worst.
As a coach you can control participation and volume and intensity but have a hard time to control recovery, diet and sleep. It is a question of explaining really well to all the rowers of the TEAM how important is rest and how much their quality of training and recovery can get affected.
Details like sleeping hours, the way they eat and motivation are key for top performance. As a coach or rower don’t underestimate them and be sure your athletes take responsibility.