The Importance of Sleep for Recovery: Make Sure You Follow These Steps

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Mac Robertson, Swimming World College Intern.

Going to swim practice each day can become extremely tiresome to even the world’s best. The rest and recovery that occurs out of the pool can be just as essential to fast swimming as the time spend in the pool. Many people often overlook the importance of a good night’s sleep.

A typical swimmer spends about 85 percent of the day outside of the pool. This is a lot of time to actively spend working toward being at the top of your game for the next practice. This time can be used for a variety of activities, but the majority of it should be used on getting quality rest.

Sleeping is a way for your brain to recharge throughout the night, as it is actively forming new pathways to help learn and retain information for the next day. This can include perfecting stroke technique and efficiency in the water.

Swimming is notoriously known for its early morning training times. These early wake-up times can affect sleep patterns. Lance Walker, the Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach with the Dallas Cowboys, says that the better you can reload during the night, the better you can practice the next day. Going to bed early can help you kill that morning practice.

The Problems of Sleep Deficiency

Here are a few ways that lack of sleep can harm the body.

1. You get sick and inured more easily.

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According to a study done by Shona Halson in the Journal of Science and Cycling, sleep can combat the likelihood of illness and injury. Halson examined the well-being of athletes who had sleep abnormalities versus those who didn’t. Sleep abnormalities included poor sleep habits to early morning training times. The athletes without abnormalities were healthier and able to train harder. The correct amount of rest at regular intervals is directly linked to the overall wellness and performance of an athlete.

2. It makes you moody and slow.

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Another study written in the Frontiers in Physiology looked at nine elite swimmers and the relationship between fatigue and performance. They found that the swimmers who were more fatigued tended to have higher stress levels and worse moods than their counterparts who were not fatigued. Lengthening the amount they slept each night, however, helped the fatigued athletes swim faster at finals. Not enough rest can lead to a much slower swim.

3. You have a slower reaction time.

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The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute states that sleep deficiency is a major issue many people overlook. Sleep-deficient individuals are less productive, take longer to finish tasks, have slower reaction times, and make more mistakes. A slower reaction time off the block can be detrimental in a race.

The Solutions

A quality night of rest for the average adult is about eight hours a night. So, what can you do to ensure that you are getting enough sleep?

1. Set a schedule

Writing down a schedule for your day can help keep you on track with each activity and practice. Once you have completed all of your tasks for the day, you can relax and make sure that you are to bed on time. This can eliminate procrastinating to do different things throughout the day as well.

2. Keep a sleep journal.

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This is something that doesn’t need to be very big. It can be as simple as getting up each morning and writing how many hours you slept the night before. If you begin to feel fatigued, you have a record to show you if you have been getting enough sleep.

3. Practice sleep rituals.

Apr 16, 2015; Mesa, AZ, USA; Michael Phelps looks at his iPhone as he receives a massage before the Men's 100 meter butterfly final during the 2015 Arena Pro Swim Series at the Skyline Aquatic Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher/Arizona Republic via USA TODAY Sports

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Having a set procedure each night before climbing into bed can help prepare your body for a quality night of rest. Studies have shown that being on an electronic device before going to sleep can trick your body into thinking it is still daytime. This can lead to a night of restless sleep. Having a sleep routine will prepare your mind and body for relaxation and rest.

Make sure you take control of each practice and meet by getting to bed on time. No one likes to feel sluggish and tired all day!

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.

7 Comments

7 comments

  1. Franzi Weidner

    Karl Hennebach & Yuri Samouilich, you’re famous!

Author: Mac Robertson

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Mac Robertson is a native of Zeeland, MI who is now pursuing a degree in Communication Studies at Albion College. He also swims freestyle for the Britons.

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