Sleep Longer, Run & Bike Faster

Sleep deprivation for just one night can negatively affect endurance performance. Sleep deprivation increases levels of cortisol, the stress hormone that impacts weight management, muscle recovery and immune function. A recently published study looked at the relationship between sleep time and endurance performance from a novel perspective. Do relatively small changes in sleep time significantly impact performance? The study was conducted with three groups who slept for varying times over a three day period.

  • Group 1 averaged 4.7 hours sleep per night

  • Group 2 averaged 6.8 hours sleep per night

  • Group 3 averaged 8.4 hours sleep per night

On the fourth day, all groups underwent a 1 hour time trial. The results should not be surprising. In the sleep deprived Group 1 endurance performance decreased 3% compared to the normal sleep Group 2 and in the extended sleep Group 3 endurance performance increased 3%.

Two important takeaways from the study. Sleep changes can impact endurance performance either positively or negatively in a short time – as little as three days and it appears the optimum level of sleep time is about 8 hours per night.