The Pre-Race Prep You Don't Have to Worry About
Pre-race jitters keeping you up all night? Don't sweat it. Despite what you think, a lack of sleep won't affect athletic performance the next day, finds a new Dutch study.
Researchers recruited 10 healthy, active guys in their 20s and compared how they performed in 20-minute all-out cycling sessions under cool (52 degrees Fahrenheit), hot (88 degrees F), and sleep-deprived conditions. Not surprisingly, the participants were sluggish in the heat. More surprising: The athletes cycled just as far after not sleeping a wink as they did when fully rested in ideal, cool conditions.
But despite their ability to do their best while feeling groggy, the participants underestimated how far they’d cycled in 20 minutes by an average of 1 kilometer. In other words, a lack of sleep only affected the athletes' performance in their heads, the researchers say.
So while you may misjudge your performance in a race following a restless night, know that your actual results shouldn't suffer. (Unless that restless night included booze: Research shows that alcohol intake leads to dehydration and impairs important metabolic processes during exercise.)
If you liked this story, you'll love these: