Each year I do a collective “humping of the knees” to get folks to imporve their sleep quality. I usually kick that off by recommending the book Lights Out! Sleep, Sugar and Survival. I LOVE this book. Most folks either love it or hate it but the information is amazing and continues to be validated. Shift work has been on the CDC list of known carcinogens for quite some time. Right next to cigarettes and paint thinner.
Sleep deprivation mimics many elements of the aging process. One could make the argument that how you feel when you are sleep deprived is likely how you will feel if you are both diabetic and old (sleep deprivation dramatically impacts insulin sensitivity). Improved sleep time and quality will help you: Lean out, avoid depression, autoimmunity, heart disease…it might even help you be a better athlete. This is a very interesting article for me in that coaches simply tried a schedule more conducive to better sleep and they saw immediate performance improvements in their players. They also dumped the AM shootaround session and saw improvements. More down time, less junk “mileage”.
We have not worked with a ton of high level athletes but we have trained a few, and to good success. Something I have noticed with these folks is my job is less about motivating or pushing these people. They tend to arrive HIGHLY motivated. More than anything else I get the sense I save these folks from themselves. They will literally work themselves to death.
For the rest of us just trying to be healthy and live well the message is still there. Quality training, sleep and food really matters.