The role of sleep and recovery in combat athletes (Blog 3 of 3)


Pre-workouts drinks and caffeine?
Caffeine is most widely used psychoactive drug used in athletic populations. It is predominately used by athletes in response to acute sleep loss following travel and for acute performance improvement to combat fatigue during training and competition. Caffeine recommendations for performance improvement range from 2-9mg per kg of body weight. When consumed, peak plasma levels for caffeine are reached 60-120 minutes after ingestion with caffeine half-life ranging from 4-6 hours after consumption. Caffeine use can result in an improvement in reaction time, increase in alertness  and increases in speed, endurance and agility.

Whilst caffeine may give you performance benefits, it may also lead to impaired sleep, especially when ingested before or during after an evening training session, with resultant detrimental effects on subsequent performance and recovery. Caffeine consumed within 4-6 hours of the proposed time of sleep has been shown to have negative effects on sleep duration and sleep quality, mainly due to an increase in sleep latency (time to fall asleep). Caffeine can also increase the number of sleep disturbances (wake after sleep onset), leading to a reduction in sleep duration (i.e. sleep loss) and next day-impaired performance

Caution is advised when consuming pre-workouts drinks.They contain high levels of caffeine and depending on how much you consume; a serve can be the equivalent to 6-8 shots of coffee. Whilst you may get a buzz out of it, excessive levels of caffeine can lead to tremors, poor decision-making and lack of accuracy. If you are training in the evening or at night, be mindful that caffeine/pre-workout takes 60-120 minutes to peak. and has a half-life of 4-6 hrs. This may delay the onset of sleep.

For example, you finish work at 17:00. You drive to training and commence at 18:00. Just before you start you consume a pre workout drink. It will peak in your system at around 19:00-20:00. If your training session ends before this, then the performance effect will be lost. Now it is going to impact your sleep. Given the half life, trying to intiate  sleep before 23:00 will be extremely difficult. In an effort to time this correctly, the pre-workout should be consumed at 17:00 on departure from work. This will allow you to maximise the performance benefits during your training window 18:00-19:00 and advance the time of sleep onset.

It’s the end of the day, how should I wind down from training 
Many people have many different methods. Here are a few simple ways to help initiate sleep:

  1. Reduce stimulating activities such as video gaming, TV and or laptop work in the hour prior to bed.
  2. Try reading a relaxing book such as a novel.
  3. Consider the use of a meditation app such as Headspace, Mindfulness or Buddify. Or check out Moby’s free album on You Tube “Long Ambients 1: Calm. Sleep”. You can also download it free from the links within the You Tube page

Sleep Well !!!

Ian C Dunican


Subscribe to our newsletter:

Recent Posts:

Past Newsletters: