The Importance Of Sleep

The No1 Health Enhancer

Flow Physio London

February 7, 2022
The importance of sleep

Photo: My parent’s new kitten Bertie waking up from a deep sleep.


Two thirds of the nation fail to obtain the recommended eight hours nightly sleep.


Sleep is an essential function that allows your body and mind to recharge, leaving us refreshed and alert upon waking. Sleep is highlighted to be the greatest legal performance- enhancing drug that few people are taking advantage of.


The impact of sleep upon sport performance


Matthew Walker a professor in neuroscience wrote the book ‘Why We Sleep’. He signifies a sleep endemic currently with two thirds of the nation not getting enough sleep.


Sleep has 3 main cognitive benefits:

1. Improved memory

2. Improved motor proficiency

3. Improved creativity


A lack of sleep is shown to dramatically reduce sport performance with a notable relationship with peak and muscle strength contraction, vertical jump height and limb extension force. Alongside this cardiac, metabolic and respiratory effects are seen with higher rates of lactic acid build up, reductions in blood oxygen saturation and increases in carbon dioxide. With the most notable one to a physiotherapist being an increase in injury rates. Getting adequate sleep has been shown to reduce injury across the season by more than 200%.


Make sleep a priority. . .


How does this affect you?


So… having noted that a lack of sleep impacts upon high performing sports individuals it is also important for you to review. In the modern world especially in London where the average working hours seem to draw later and later into the night this certainly has an impact. Then add in that late-night ‘Barry’s BootCamp class’ this can really have an impact upon our ability then to calm our system immediately before attempting to fall asleep.

However, one would suggest the benefits are still highly regarded with exercise assisting in reducing cortisol levels and movement. After a long day of sitting and many a zoom call, any form of movement and exercise is important. Studies show that a hot shower/ bath demonstrates a radiator like effect on our body, expelling the heat from our core. Thus, reducing our core temperature enabling us to relax a little more and fall asleep a lot faster.


Sleep is bio-directional, sleeping well leads to peak performance and vice versa.


An interesting topic at present is the link of ‘HUSSLE CULTURE’, ‘GO HARD OR GO HOME’, ‘BURN OUT’ whereby we are working more than ever with a feeling of having to try and prove ourselves. There is a fundamental image problem. With sleep specialists demonstrating sleep is important, YET individuals feeling proud to declare how little sleep we are having there is a fundamental image problem. People are feeling ashamed to declare their sleeping habits if slightly longer or even if napping in the day which is suggested to have its positives… should we do as the Spanish do and have a siesta?

Well known athletes really emphasise their sleeping habits and the link then with performance. With Usain Bolt having woken from a nap only 35 minutes prior to his gold medal winning Olympic title whilst sleeping also for 9 hours per night. Roger Federer sleeps for 12 hours per night always. Most sports performance teams now have a sleep coach ensuring the best performance driven outcomes, we on a day to day basis should also be listening to the advice.


Learning to live in harmony with our circadian rhythm is the challenge of the 21st Century




Enhanced performance at both a sporting and personal level is a cyclical state of equilibrium with one then effecting the other.


Points to consider:


  1. Prescription of SLEEP: aiming to get 8 hours of sleep a night.
  2. The importance of day- light exposure
  3. Eating with intention
  4. Hot shower/ bath prior to bed
  5. Finding your FLOW State
  6. Reducing Hussle Culture
  7. Pop that iPhone to one side, the iPhone addiction: unnecessary scrolling as a method of winding down.


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Picture of Florence Penny

Florence Penny

Owner & Founder of Flow Physio London

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Flow Physio London is a tranquil space offering a bespoke, holistic approach to physiotherapy and wellness optimisation. A service offering cutting edge research driven treatment techniques to deliver results whilst being inspired by a desire to help people. Flow Physio London aims to fuse interior design providing a clean crisp feel with warmth creating a healing environment. We have a wealth of knowledge treating musculoskeletal injuries, post op orthopaedic rehabilitation and sports injuries.

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