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.

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