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How Much Does Poor Sleep Affect Exercise Performance?

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It is commonly understood that poor sleep can affect an athlete’s training and performance. A new study (Kirschen GW, Jones JJ, Hale L. “The Impact of Sleep Duration on Performance Among Competitive Athletes: A Systematic Literature Review.” Clin J Sport Med. 2020 Sep;30(5):503-512. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29944513/) performed a systematic review of 19 other studies on the effect of sleep duration on performance in competitive athletes.

What it found:

(1) Every study found that longer sleep durations had a positive (longer sleep = better performance) or neutral effect on exercise performance. None found any negative effects from greater sleep duration.

(2) Not surprisingly, longer bouts (one week or more) of shorter sleep or sleep disruption had a larger impact than just having one or two nights of shorter sleep duration.

Specifically to strength training, one night of poor or shortened sleep duration may effect endurance and high volume work.

Aside from performance, poor sleep hinders recovery, body composition, among other things. If you do not have regularly get a good night sleep, check out these practical suggestions for improving sleep quality.

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