The secret to staying injury-free is in your dreams
There’s a reason Team Sky hauls its own bedding around: it’s essential to the marginal gains that helped propel Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome to the top of the Tour de France field – and now new US research has found sleeping soundly is also crucial to staying injury-free.
The study found the number of hours of sleep per night is a better predictor of injury than time spent training. When training, people who get less than eight hours’ sleep a night are 1.7 times more likely to get injured than those who sleep longer. The likely cause is not getting enough non-REM sleep, a phase of deep slumber when the blood supply to your muscles increases, delivering more nutrients to help them heal and grow – especially after strenuous exercise.
Team manager Dave Brailsford prescribes hypoallergenic mattresses instead of the potentially dust and mite-infested hotel beds, but there are numerous apps and gadgets that can boost your dose of nonREM sleep. Aura is a device that emits orange light and soothing frequencies to mimic your body’s circadian rhythms (withings.com), but at nearly £200 you might need a pro athlete’s sponsorship deal to get it. Alternatively the app Sleep Genius (sleepgenius.com) will help you monitor your shut-eye for free.