Sleep & Performance: Why sufficient rest is the missing piece to your training regime

Sleep & Performance: Why sufficient rest is the missing piece to your training regime

Blackcurrants - The immunity boosting berry to get your hands on Reading Sleep & Performance: Why sufficient rest is the missing piece to your training regime 5 minutes Next History and Origins of Blackcurrant in Health and Wellness

Written by Jennifer Ho Sports Dietitian. MS, RD, CD. 


The value of a good night of sleep is often underappreciated. As work and life demands increase, sleep duration tends to decrease. Paired with the accessibility of caffeine, many people find themselves running on a temporary energy source to get through days.

A lack of sleep can negatively influence the normal functioning of our bodies. Hormones become imbalanced, cognitive function declines, and metabolism is impaired. Poor sleep increases susceptibility to weight gain, negatively influences mood, and decreases immune function. These detriments to health can go on for weeks to months. Eventually, they may evolve into chronic inflammation and diseases.

When we sleep, our bodies transition to a state of restoration. Sleep cycles consist of wakefulness, rapid eye movement (REM), and N-REM sleep. N-REM sleep breaks down into three stages - the transition between wake and sleep, light sleep, and deep sleep (or slow-wave sleep). Our sleep begins in the N-REM stages and cycles to REM sleep approximately every 90 minutes.1

Vivid dreams and an active brain characterizes REM sleep. Muscle paralysis occurs to prevent us from acting out our dreams. N-REM sleep, specifically slow-wave sleep, elicits repair and recovery processes for our bodies. During this stage, we release growth hormone. This hormone is responsible for putting our bodies in an anabolic state.2 After we train and stress our bodies, we are in a catabolic state. Muscles break down, and inflammatory responses increase. By promoting an anabolic state, our bodies can slow down degradation and increase repair.



Hard, consistent training paired with inadequate recovery time can lead to plateauing. If you feel you are doing everything right with exercise and nutrition, consider your sleep and recovery habits. Without adequate time to recover, our bodies are constantly in a state of stress.

For the elite athlete, sleep deprivation can increase injury risk, decrease sport-specific performance, and hinder concentration. The recommendation for non-athletes is to sleep 7-9 hours per night. However, athletes should aim for 9-10 hours of sleep due to their high training demands and stress loads. Realistically, many athletes do not achieve adequate sleep due to factors related to stress, technology use, and travel.

During sleep recovery, the nervous system, endocrine functioning, and muscle health heal and repair. Sufficient sleep is correlated with improved reaction times and decision-making, enhanced muscle growth, and improved muscular endurance. By utilizing the benefits of sleep, athletes rely less on supplements and extrinsic factors to feel recovered.




Improving sleep can be approached from a nutrition standpoint and through reassessing nighttime habits. Though supplements can enhance our ability to fall and stay asleep, they do not replace poor sleep hygiene.

Although starting good sleep habits is not as easy as telling yourself to sleep at 10 pm, there are strategies to help the transition feel smoother. Creating a sleep routine will help prime your body for sleep. Consistently performing these tasks allows the body to register that it is soon time to sleep. An example may look like this: turn your phone on “do not disturb” mode, brush your teeth, and lay out clothes for tomorrow. Keeping rooms dim and minimizing bright light exposure in the evening will also benefit sleep quality.

With the ever-growing popularity of technology and social media, athletes may unknowingly be hindering their sleep with late-night screen time. The light from phone and computer screens can cause disruptions in circadian rhythm, leading to longer sleep latency and poor sleep quality.

Minimizing caffeine in the afternoon will help avoid sleep disruptions. The half-life of caffeine is about 3-7 hours.3 This means if you ingest caffeine at 1 pm, half of the caffeine may still be circulating at 8 pm. The remaining caffeine is likely to be present at the time you go to sleep. Although the feeling of alertness will wear off by nighttime, caffeine may still hinder sleep quality and increase sleep disruptions.

Using 2before’s caffeine-free blackcurrant pre workout for afternoon and evening exercise can help energize your training without compromising sleep. Blackcurrants also enhance antioxidant activity, which supports the recovery process following workouts. Simply take one sachet about one hour before training.

Optimizing your sleep routine may be the missing piece to your training regime. Remember that sufficient rest and recovery are essential for achieving training goals and seeing performance improvements.


  1. Scammell TE. Overview of sleep: the neurologic processes of the sleep-wake cycle. J Clin Psychiatry. 2015;76(5):e13. doi:10.4088/JCP.14046tx1c
  2. Vitale KC, Owens R, Hopkins SR, Malhotra A. Sleep Hygiene for Optimizing Recovery in Athletes: Review and Recommendations. Int J Sports Med. 2019;40(8):535-543. doi:10.1055/a-0905-3103
  3. Temple JL, Bernard C, Lipshultz SE, Czachor JD, Westphal JA, Mestre MA. The Safety of Ingested Caffeine: A Comprehensive Review. Front Psychiatry. 2017;8:80. Published 2017 May 26. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2017.00080