STRAVA | Eight Sleep

Paid Partnership

The New Secret Weapon in Sports: Sleep


, by Fabienne Lang

Photography by: Eight Sleep

A good night's sleep can mean the difference between a great performance and, well, one you might want to forget. With March being Sleep Awareness Month, we thought we’d take a look at why sleep is so important, and how you can improve your sleep patterns.

It's no secret that sleep is a game-changer when it comes to sports performance. Beyond the rest days nestled within a training regimen, the true magic for muscle growth and repair unfolds during the coveted deep sleep phase.

But did you know that each night, as we drift into slumber, our body navigates through distinct sleep stages, each playing a vital role in our overall health and well-being? Yet, for many athletes, achieving quality sleep can feel like chasing a fleeting shadow. The repercussions are palpable, whether it's a lackluster performance on race day or subpar training sessions.

The good news is that there are ways of unlocking the full potential of sleep. We’ve teamed up with Eight Sleep to look at why sleep is so important, the role that temperature regulation plays in a good night’s sleep, and how technology like The Pod can help you optimize your sleep patterns. With nearly 1 billion hours of sleep data collected, Eight Sleep is quickly establishing itself as the #1 authority in sleep fitness in the world.

Unlocking the Secrets of Sleep: How Your Body Rebuilds After Training

When it comes to maximizing muscle growth and recovery, nothing beats the deep sleep phase. This crucial stage of slumber is where the magic happens, where our bodies undergo the vital repairs needed to bounce back stronger after intense training sessions and races.

Photography by: Eight Sleep

To understand the mechanics behind this recovery process, let's delve into the three primary stages of sleep that impact our health and well-being:

  1. Light Sleep: Picture this as the foundation of your nightly rest. In this initial stage, your brain is hard at work, going through memories, refining motor skills, and fine-tuning techniques – whether it's memorizing a challenging cycling route, mastering a more efficient pedal stroke, or perfecting a new strength-building workout routine.

  2. Deep Sleep: Here's where the real work begins. Deep sleep is the powerhouse of muscle tissue growth and repair. For athletes who push their limits day in and day out, this stage is non-negotiable. Without adequate deep sleep, your body's ability to heal and grow muscle tissue is compromised, leaving you lagging behind the competition.

  3. REM Sleep: As our eyes dart back and forth beneath closed lids, we enter the realm of REM sleep, where memory consolidation takes center stage. Think of it as the brain's filing system, sorting through the day's experiences, and cementing them into long-term memory. Without sufficient REM sleep, we're left vulnerable to forgetfulness and can feel groggy and lethargic.

JOIN The Eight Sleep Club today

Temperature control: the secret to a good night sleep

How do we ensure we go through each of these essential sleep stages each night? The answer lies in one crucial factor: temperature regulation. Our bodies operate on a finely tuned circadian rhythm, which orchestrates fluctuations in our internal temperature to synchronize with our sleep-wake cycle.

Research shows that as bedtime approaches, our core body temperature naturally decreases, priming us for sleep. Throughout the first half of the night, this decline continues, paving the way for deep, restorative slumber. However, in most bedrooms, the temperature remains static, failing to adapt to our body's changing needs.

This oversight can disrupt our sleep patterns, resulting in fewer periods of deep and REM sleep, and a higher likelihood of nocturnal awakenings. This is where the sleep fitness company, Eight Sleep and the Pod, comes into play. As renowned neuroscientist and professor, Andrew Huberman, attests, “Our body temperature needs to drop 1-3° to get into sleep, and temperature increases trigger awakening. By using Eight Sleep, I’m able to experience a full night’s sleep without waking up.”

Photography by: Eight Sleep

The Pod, used by over 200 elite athletes provides personalized heating and cooling systems, seamlessly adjusting the temperature of each side of the bed throughout the night. Dr. Kevin Sprouse, Head of Medicine for EF Pro Cycling, emphasizes the importance of temperature regulation during your sleep: "With Eight Sleep, I've seen an almost uniform increase in deep sleep, that's remarkable. [The health tracking] is shockingly consistent with other wearables I've used and [The Pod] will allow the riders to sleep a lot better and at a higher quality."

This dynamic temperature regulation optimizes every stage of sleep, paving the way for enhanced deep sleep, REM sleep, and overall sleep duration, ultimately elevating your sleep quality to new heights.

FIND OUT MORE: Visit today

To put that into perspective. Eight Sleep's clinical study highlighted that after just one month of sleeping on the Pod there are significant improvements to your sleep and cardiovascular health.

  • Deep sleep increased by 10% on average.

  • Sleeping heart rate variability increased by 6% on average.

  • Sleeping heart rate decreased by 1% on average.

Find out more about these numbers here.

Being able to control your body temperature is particularly useful for athletes who often train in the late afternoon or evening. Post-exercise, athletes experience heightened core body temperatures, which can sabotage sleep quality by making it harder to fall asleep, reducing deep sleep, and triggering uncomfortable night sweats. With technology like The Pod these challenges are counteracted, creating the optimal sleep environment for peak performance and recovery – no matter what time you train.

Photography by: Eight Sleep

Unlocking Your Sleep and Training Potential

Beyond temperature regulation, there are other factors involved in unlocking sleep potential. Metrics like heart rate, heart rate variability (HRV), and respiratory rate to enhance good sleep and muscle regeneration all play a role. Again, this is something that products like The Pod can offer.

With a 98% accuracy in tracking respiration rate and 99% for sleeping heart rate, the Pod optimizes your sleep quality. By aligning with your body's natural rhythms, The Pod ensures that each night's rest fuels your recovery and enhances performance, no matter the circumstances.

As such, it’s no surprise that both pro and amateur athletes alike are using this kind of technology. Alberto Bettiol, EF Pro Cyclist, sings its praises: “Eight Sleep has helped us to recover, rest and prepare for the next day, to fight again for another stage. I only have positive feedback, it’s also very convenient to use with my phone, using the app, so I’m really happy with it.” The EF Pro Cycling team has embraced the sleep tech company as their official Sleep Fitness partner, leveraging The Pod for their latest competitive edge.

In conclusion, it's crystal clear: quality sleep is the cornerstone of peak athletic performance. The exciting part? We now have the tools to unlock the full potential of our rest, ensuring we navigate through all sleep stages, and empowering our bodies to rejuvenate and rebuild stronger than ever before. With the power of optimal sleep on our side, the possibilities for athletic excellence are limitless.

Find out more about Eight Sleep and the Pod here

Related Tags

More Stories