Sleep in Elite Athletes and Nutritional Interventions to Enhance Sleep

Beskriver forskjellige måter søvn påvirker atleter, og hvordan søv påvirkes av mat. Nevner at høykarbo mat må inntaes minimum 1t før leggetid.

The same research group also increased the sleep time of swimmers from their usual sleep amount to 10 h per night for 6–7 weeks. Following this period, 15 m sprint, reaction time, turn time, and mood all improved [30].

Waterhouse et al. [31] investigated the effects of a lunchtime nap on sprint performance following partial sleep deprivation (4 h of sleep). Following a 30-min nap, 20 m sprint performance was increased, alertness was increased, and sleepiness was decreased when compared with the no-nap trial. In terms of cognitive performance, sleep supplementation in the form of napping has been shown to have a positive influence on cognitive tasks following a night of sleep deprivation (2 h) [32]. Naps can markedly reduce sleepiness and can be beneficial when learning skills, strategy or tactics [32]. Napping may also be beneficial for athletes who have to wake early routinely for training or competition and those who are experiencing sleep deprivation [32].

Pain Perception

It is well accepted that individuals with chronic pain frequently report disturbed sleep (changes in continuity of sleep as well as sleep architecture). However, there is also recent evidence suggesting that sleep deprivation may cause or modulate acute and chronic pain [36]. Sleep deprivation may thus enhance or cause pain, and pain may disturb sleep by inducing arousals during sleep. A cycle may then eventuate, starting with either pain or sleep deprivation, with these two issues maintaining or augmenting each other [36].

Athletes may experience pain as a result of training, competition and/or injury. Evidence, although minimal at this stage, suggests that athletes may also have lower sleep quality and quantity than the general population [16]. Therefore, appropriate pain management as well as adequate sleep is likely to be very important for athletes from both a pain and sleep perspective.

A small number of studies have investigated the effects of carbohydrate ingestion on indices of sleep quality and quantity. Porter and Horne [52] provided six male subjects with a high-carbohydrate meal (130 g), a low-carbohydrate meal (47 g), or a meal containing no carbohydrate, 45 min before bedtime. The high-carbohydrate meal resulted in increased REM sleep, decreased light sleep, and wakefulness [52].

Practical Applications

In the first instance, athletes should focus on utilizing good sleep hygiene to maximize sleep quality and quantity. While research is minimal and somewhat inconclusive, several practical recommendations may be suggested:

  • High GI foods such as white rice, pasta, bread, and potatoes may promote sleep; however, they should be consumed more than 1 h before bedtime.
  • Diets high in carbohydrate may result in shorter sleep latencies.
  • Diets high in protein may result in improved sleep quality.
  • Diets high in fat may negatively influence total sleep time.
  • When total caloric intake is decreased, sleep quality may be disturbed.
  • Small doses of tryptophan (1 g) may improve both sleep latency and sleep quality. This can be achieved by consuming approximately 300 g of turkey or approximately 200 g of pumpkin seeds.
  • The hormone melatonin and foods that have a high melatonin concentration may decrease sleep onset time.
  • Subjective sleep quality may be improved with the ingestion of the herb valerian; however, as with all supplements, athletes should be aware of potential contaminants as well as the inadvertent risk of a positive drug test.

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