Athletes cite long sleep for Games achievements
The relationship between sleep and athletes' achievements has been drawing renewed attention at the ongoing Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games, especially after some sterling performances by Chinese gold winners Gu Ailing and Gao Tingyu.
Skiing sensation Gu in fact alluded to her sleeping habits back in August 2021 when she said: "I have a secret weapon, which is sleeping 10 hours a day."
The American-born star, who has won the Big Air gold and freestyle slopestyle silver at Beijing 2022 so far, thinks long sleep is one of the reasons for her energetic performances.
"I believe that she must get enough sleep," Gu's mother told Red Star News recently. "She slept 15 hours a day during her childhood and 13 hours when she went to primary school."
Gao Tingyu, who won men's 500-meter speed skating gold and set a new Olympic record on February 12, told Xinhua News Agency that he regularly sleeps 10 to 12 hours a day, but has suffered from insomnia recently, catching only 8 to 9 hours of slumber.
People think he is "uncommunicative but keen on sleeping."
"My body is exhausted and having a good rest can revive me more quickly," Gao explained.
Paying attention to his sleep quality, Gao always has a carry-on pillow because the feeling of familiarity can prevent insomnia and a stiff neck.
Similarly, Chinese sprinter Su Bingtian goes to bed at 10pm every day with his smartphone switched off and American professional basketball player LeBron James sleeps 12 hours a day.
According to current research, good achievements are closely related to adequate sleep. Good and long slumber helps revive the body's strength and energy, improves memory, enhances body resistance and regulates emotions.
A study published by Montenegrin Journal of Sports Science and Medicine in 2020 suggested that sleep loss "can negatively impact motivation, physical strength, reaction time and decision-making."
According to a study by Loughborough University, a tennis player sleeping only five hours a day has a 25 percent lower success rate while serving than usual.
A good sleep is also important for ordinary people, including both enough sleeping time and a regular schedule.
Seven to eight hours' sleep is enough for an adult, and nine hours for children.
Dr Eve Van Cauter from University of Chicago claims that sleep loss can reduce the capacity of performing basic metabolic functions and increase the severity of age-related ailments.
A proper amount of exercise is helpful towards getting sleep.
The 2021 Sports and Sleep White Book, published by the Chinese Sleep Research Society, emphasizes the relationship between exercise and sleep.
More than 300 million people suffer from insomnia in China, while the proportion among people with regular exercise habits is only 10 percent.
Fragmented exercise during working hours of 5 to 7 minutes, 30-minute aerobics and doing yoga or respiratory exercises before going to bed are beneficial to sleep.