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The research on lack of sleep

Lack of sleep can severely impair your sports performance. Recent research showed that when healthy young men were restricted to four hours sleep for just 6 nights, their hormone profiles replicated those of elderly or depressed individuals.

The implications for athletes are equally profound. Sleep deprivation can lead to reduced cardiovascular performance (11% in one study), a reduction of glucose metabolism of up to 40%, and symptoms of accelerated aging.

One reason for this seems to be hormonal changes associated with sleep deprivation. These can lead to increased hunger and appetite - in another recent study, just two days of restricted sleep led subjects eat up to 45% more calorie-dense carbohydrate foods.

Indeed, there are many nutrients that can have either a positive or negative effect on our sleep - understanding what to eat and when, and just as importantly what to avoid, can also make a big difference.

It is therefore crucial that you do everything you can to ensure that you get the sleep you need to maximize the effects of your training.

There are a number of steps you can take, some concerned with sleep habits, others dietary, to reduce the effects of lack of sleep on your performance.

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