London, England
Sunday 11th December 2011
The weekend is nearly over & before I get engrossed in the proceedings of the week ahead, I want to review the presentations on sleep that I was privileged enough to attend on Friday.

Johan Terpstra set the tone for the afternoon, introducing the basic concepts behind the assessment & evaluation of sleep, whilst underlining the importance of individualising sleep strategies according to the data collected.

Cheri Mah (pictured) continued the theme with a thoroughly enlightening presentation, followed by a question & answer session, where the coaches & support staff were able to get advice on managing some of the issues that have been brought to their attention by their athletes.  Unfortunately, given the fact that some of the information included in Cheri's presentation has yet to be published, I am not able to post the presentation on line, however, Cheri has already very kindly offered to present again in the coming months.

Here are some of the points I took from the day's presentations:

1)  Power naps can benefit performance by increasing alertness by 54% for up to 3 hours after waking

2)  Power naps should be limited to 20 - 30 minutes (any longer & you start to enter a deeper state of sleep which can be detrimental to subsequent performance sessions that afternoon)

3)  If you struggle to limit your power naps to 20 - 30 minutes, drink a caffeinated drink before your nap, as this takes around 15 minutes to take effect, meaning you will wake in a more alert state

4)  Sleep extension has been shown to improve reaction times & skill performance in elite sport & is one of the primary strategies that an athlete should adopt when beginning to address their sleep 

5)  Athletes should aim to get between 8 - 10 hours sleep per night - it is a myth that more than 8 hours sleep per night is too much

6)  If you get less sleep than your nightly requirement, you accrue a sleep debt, which like any other debt, needs repaying

7)  Paying back a sleep debt can take weeks & it should not be assumed that a couple of early nights will do the trick

8)  It is not normal to be tired during the day - if you are, this is an indication that you have a sleep debt

9)  30 minutes before you intend to go to sleep, you should be starting to relax your body & mind using strategies such as relaxation techniques, a warm shower or quiet rest, whilst avoiding computer use (no Facebook/Twitter/email!!), phone calls & television

10)  Pre-sleep strategies should become a routine, which will help trying to get to sleep in unfamiliar environments such as hotels 

11)  Download the f.lux programme on to your computer, which alters the brightness & colour of your computer screen to make it warmer at night & brighter like sunlight during the day - to find out more about f.lux & download the software for free, click here   

12)  Aim for 85% sleep efficiency, which is the time you spend in bed divided by the time you spend asleep in bed

If you would like to know more about the presentations, please get in touch using the Enquiry form on the "Contact" page or comment in the box below.

Once again, thanks to Cheri & Johan for taking the time to present to us

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