RESEARCH: studies reviewed this week - 31 August 2020 to 6 September 2020

SLEEP: Sleep habits and strategies of ultramarathon runners

This study aimed to understand the sleep habits of ultramarathon runners with an emphasis on understanding how they adjust in the week leading up to a race. It is an interesting study as it looks at what runners actually do and what they believe in. The authors found that:

Most of the study participants (73.9%) had a strategy to manage sleep preceding an ultramarathon, with 54.7% trying to increase their opportunities for sleep.

We conclude that sleep duration among ultramarathon runners was comparable to the general population and other athletic populations, yet they reported a lower prevalence of sleep disorders. Daytime sleepiness was among the lowest rates encountered in athletic populations, which may be related to the high percentage of nappers in our population.

Sleep extension, by increasing sleep time at night and daytime napping, was the main sleep strategy to prepare for ultramarathons.

PRACTICAL TAKE AWAY - it is important to consider sleep in the week leading into an ultramarathon and to aim for some sleep extension each day.

SLEEP: Benefits of Sleep Extension on Sustained Attention and Sleep Pressure Before and During Total Sleep Deprivation and Recovery

In the study above, the authors showed that sleep extension is a strategy used by ultramarathon runners. This study determined what the benefits of sleep extension are by comparing a group who followed their habitual (HAB) sleep routine and group who used a sleep extension (EXT) routine. The EXT group increased their sleep from 8.2 hours/night to 9.8 hours/night for six nights. The authors found that:

Total sleep time and duration of all sleep stages during the 6 nights were significantly higher in EXT than HAB.

EXT improved psychomotor vigilance task performance and reduced sleep pressure as evidenced by longer multiple sleep latencies at baseline compared to HAB.

PRACTICAL TAKE AWAY - increasing time in bed at night does increase the duration of sleep phases and this is beneficial for psychomotor vigilance task performance.

SLEEP: Sleep Extension before Sleep Loss: Effects on Performance and Neuromuscular Function

Another associated study with the previous two sleep studies above, this study aimed to "investigate the effects of six nights of sleep extension on motor performance and associated neuromuscular function before and after one night of total sleep deprivation (TSD)". After the six nights of sleep extension, "an assessment of motor performance and neuromuscular function at baseline (D0) and after one night of TSD, i.e., 34-37 h of continuous wakefulness (D1) were performed". The authors found:

Time to exhaustion was longer in EXT compared with HAB.

At D1, the RPE during exercise was lower in EXT compared with HAB with no difference at D0.

PRACTICAL TAKE AWAY - sleep extension helped to improve time to exhaustion and to lower RPE after sleep deprivation.

RECOVERY: Rolling massage acutely improves skeletal muscle oxygenation and parameters associated with microvascular reactivity: The first evidence-based study

Many athletes use foam rollers and other rolling massage devices and there is no current research on it's efficacy. This study set out to investigate "the effects of 30s and 2 min of rolling massage (RM) on forearm muscle oxygenation, parameters associated with oxidative metabolism, and microvascular reactivity as well as brachial artery endothelial function". The authors found:

Forearm muscle oxygenation increased after 30s of RM while there was no change from baseline to post-intervention after 2 min of RM.

Microvascular function improved after both 30s and 2 min of RM.

RM did not acutely improve brachial artery endothelial function.

PRACTICAL TAKE AWAY - rolling massage improves skeletal muscle oxygenation and parameters associated with microvascular reactivity.

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