Sleep-deprived athletes compromise their ability to win. Why? Because coaches design stressful practices intended to generate physiological adaptations, and rest is a big part of the equation. When I coached juniors, I mandated they get a minimum of eight hours sleep a night. Whether they all complied is hard to say, but the rule helped make the point of the necessity of regular sleep in order to be ready for the next day. Generally, your rowers will know when they have not had enough rest. In addition to talking with my athletes about their sleep needs, I kept track of their resting heart rate when they awoke. Heart rates that exceeded the norm indicated either insufficient rest or the onset of sickness. Many rowers can improve their hours of sleep by organizing their days better and planning ahead. Procrastination may be sleep’s worst enemy. You can predict that you won’t get a lot of quality sleep the night before a big race. My oarsmen and women knew the importance of getting a good sleep “the night before the night before.” And for those who had a bad night’s sleep, a nap can help. Ten to 20 minutes is all that’s required to make you feel more alert and on your game.
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