Rest and relaxation are needed for all of us. Sleep is a vital function that allows your body and mind to recharge.  Healthy sleep helps the body remain healthy and reduces the risk for diseases.  Without enough sleep, the brain cannot function properly. Poor sleep can also impair your abilities to concentrate, think clearly, and perform.

As adults, we need seven to nine hours of nightly sleep.  However, one in three adults are not getting the recommended amount of sleep per night, without interruptions.  Work schedules, day-to-day stressors, and disruptive bedroom environments can prevent us from getting enough sleep. A healthy diet and positive lifestyle habits can ensure the adequate amount of sleep each night. 

Science behind sleep

When an individual is sleeping at night, there are different phases of sleep that occur. There are two basic stages of sleep. Non-rapid eye movement (NREM) or known as deep sleep and rapid-eye movement (REM). During REM sleep is when dreams occur. Sleep stages fall between fully awake to deep sleep and go through phases during the night.  To improve learning and memory, we need REM sleep. NREM sleep is essential for recovery and to improve performance.

Sleep health is varied to our individual, social, and environmental demands, which promotes physical and mental wellbeing.  However, when one is feeling deprived of sleep it can have an influence on appetite, caloric intake, and overall metabolism.  These factors may negatively impact an athlete’s nutritional status impacting athletic performance and recovery.  

Sleep and Sprint 8 performance

When reviewing the relationship between performance and recovery, these are three main factors to look at:

  • Sleep length (total sleep duration; hours/night, plus naps)
  • Sleep quality (i.e. the experience and perceived adequacy of sleep)
  • Sleep phase (NREM, REM, sleep cycle and consistency)

Without adequate rest, your body will have prolonged inflammation periods that slow your Sprint 8 workout recoveries. Even if you slumber over 7 hours a night, research suggests that extending your sleep time by 30 minutes to one hour can benefit athletic performance. 

One of the most important elements of daily health is sleep. For you to achieve a full recovery after a hard Sprint 8 workout, getting a good night’s rest is important. However, healthy eating and getting enough of the right nutrients will help you maximize your snoozing time.  

Nutrition and sleep

Carbohydrates, protein, caffeine consumption as well as eating patterns can all affect your sleep cycle. When trying to maximize performance, here are four tips to keep in mind when trying to maximize your sleep:

1. Carbs increase REM

Including foods that contain carbohydrates (i.e. breads, pastas, cereals, crackers, popcorn, etc.) into your meals has been shown to increase the amino acid, tryptophan, within your body. Tryptophan is needed to produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter involved in sleep, appetite, pain, and mood. Once serotonin is produced, it works with other enzymes to create melatonin.  Melatonin is a hormone that regulates your sleep-wake cycle. Eating a high-carb meal when compared to eating a low to no-carb meal increased REM and decreased light sleep and the feeling of wakefulness.

2. Get in your protein

We know that eating high-carb meal before bedtime will increase concentrations of tryptophan within the blood which produces serotonin, in which creates melatonin. However, since tryptophan is an amino acid (building block of protein), tryptophan must be consumed as part of your diet since your body cannot produce it on its own.  Some dietary sources of tryptophan include milk, turkey, chicken, eggs, fish, pumpkin seeds, beans, peanuts, cheese, and leafy green vegetables.

3. Limit caffeine

Although caffeine increases your alertness, it is a stimulant and can keep you awake even hours after consumption. It is best to avoid caffeine later in the day since it can alter your sleep cycle, and can delay the time it takes you to fall asleep. Caffeine consumption can lead to reduced sleep time, which in turn, can lead to increased caffeine consumption.

4. When you eat matters

Mealtime spacing is most successful when you adjust your eating pattern based on your schedule and personal preferences. Those who are poor sleepers tend to have an irregular eating pattern such as consuming energy-dense foods, consuming less fruits and vegetables, and eating higher proportions of fat, carbs and protein after 8 pm.  These sleepers have a shorter duration of sleep phases and tend to be more awake throughout the night.    

Track your daily behaviors and adjust your routine

One important approach to maximize the effectiveness of your Sprint 8 protocol is to track your workouts and other aspects of self-care. This can include your Sweat Scores, sleep, nutrition, and stress-releasing habits like yoga and meditation. In addition, noting your moods or feelings throughout the day, like how you feel before, during and after your workouts can be beneficial.

Connecting daily behaviors to mood and workout performance, along with rest and nutrition can help you adjust your routine to suit your evolving needs.

Perhaps you’ll find an alternative time of day or specific days of the week suit your Sprint 8 workouts better because you typically get more sleep on certain days of the week or have more energy at certain times of the day, resulting in higher Sweat Scores. Or perhaps you’ll find that on days when you eat a certain food prior to your workout or even the evening before, you feel more sluggish.

Tracking daily behaviors provides data that reveals patterns and insights, which can help you perform better. So, whether it’s a paper journal or online app, find a tracking method that works for you and start today to maximize your Sprint 8 protocol. You’ll be seeing higher Sweat Scores, improved sleep and better health outcomes in no time.

Content contributed by dietetic intern, Emily Lane

Phil Campbell

“Sprint 8 is a tried and true workout that can rapidly and radically change your body for the better. It’s simple. It’s effective. And you’re going to love what it does to your body.”