Last updated July 30, 2019 at 4:45 pm
In cycling a few seconds can be the difference between winning or losing but it turns out the key to riding faster is extra sleep.
Cycling races are often won by just a few seconds, so anything that legally can boost performance by minutes is worthy of consideration.
According to researchers from Deakin University the key might just be a matter of getting more sleep.
Extra sleep equates to a faster time
It was discovered that endurance cyclists could complete 60-minute time-trials nearly two minutes faster after getting an extra 90 minutes sleep per night for three consecutive nights.
The first time they had their normal seven hours sleep each night, the second time that increased to eight-and-a-half hours, and the third it was just five hours.
Not surprisingly, the results on less sleep were poor – a 3 per cent decline in performance.
However, there was a 3 per cent increase with the extra sleep – 90 minutes more than they, as professional riders, usually felt necessary. They finished their time-trials in an average of 58.7 minutes, compared with 56.8 minutes on seven hours a night.
The ride feels the same, regardless of sleep
In general, they reported the same rating of perceived exertion each time; that is, the ride felt just as hard regardless of how much sleep they had had.
However, Roberts says their mood and “psycho-motor vigilance“, or sustained attention and reaction time, improved with more sleep and were hindered by sleep restriction.
“Getting a good night’s sleep could be the missing piece of the puzzle to success,” he says “And for riders on the Tour [de France], getting a good night’s sleep could potentially be the… difference to wearing the yellow jersey.”
Roberts says previous studies have examined the benefits of regularly getting more sleep on ball and skill sports such as football, basketball and tennis, but theirs is the first to put endurance athletes to the sleep test.