Have you ever wondered what the secret is to performing at your best?
An athlete’s natural talent and the quality of their training are obviously vitally important, but there are other aspects that both professional and amateur athletes cannot afford to overlook.
The first of these is sleep.
Recent studies* performed on athletes from various different sports have shown the sleeping between 7-10 hours-a-night has considerable benefits:
Generally speaking, all athletes showed specific improvements and, in the case of swimmers in particular, they increased their speed.
Sleep, particularly for periods of over seven hours, appears to strengthen neural pathways. This might explain why younger athletes tend to perform better, because they are used to sleeping eight hours-a-night.
So how can you sleep better?
1. dim the lights half an hour before going to bed
2. keep all tablets, smartphones or other electronic devices (that give off sounds or light that might disturb your sleep) out of the bedroom.
3. no caffeine or stimulants of any other kind after 4 p.m.
The second key to improving your performance is ferritin.
Ferritin is a protein mainly found in the liver, spleen or bone marrow and is essential for creating red blood vessels. All sports people should regularly make sure their ferritin levels are above 40 ng/mL. Clinically speaking, ferritin levels of below 20 ng/mL are worrying for non-athletes and extremely serious for athletes, because they could cause anaemia, particularly in women.
To avoid any serious problems, follow these3 pieces of advice:
1. Take regular tests throughout the entire season to keep an eye on your iron and ferritin levels.
2. Consult a dietician or nutritionist to find out the right nutritional program for you based on your daily/weekly training schedule and non-sporting activities.
3. If your iron or ferritin levels are low, please consult a doctor who will advise you what treatment to follow.
Learn to sleep properly and monitor your physical condition. Looking after your health is the real key to success.
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