The Importance of Sleep, Monitoring Devices, and Changing Your Routine, with Dr. Shona Halson

Learn how to monitor and change your sleep to get the most out of every night with Dr. Shona Halson, sleep researcher and former director of the Australian Olympic Committee Recovery Centre.

Ah, sleep. I love it. Do you love it? If only I could get more of it, and get better at it, and wake up each day well rested. Some days it works, many times it doesn’t. 

Sleep can be hard, but does it have to be? Sleep is critical, so are you getting enough? And are you getting the right kind? We all know we need sleep, but knowledge is not enough. The focus of this episode is not to convince you why sleep is important, but how to monitor and change your sleep, to get the most out of every night.  

In particular, for athletes who stress their bodies, sleep is critical. How do we make sure we get what we need, and avoid some of the disruptions and issues that can lead to sleep impairments? We’ll dive in.  

When it comes to monitoring sleep, there are a host of new gadgets that tell us both about our sleep volume, and the stages we’ve hit. Do they work? We’ll discuss the latest findings on sleep monitoring—what works, what doesn’t, and what to do with that data. 

Finally, we discuss how to take all that information and change our behavior—easier said than done. But hopefully today’s guest will help us all sleep more soundly tonight.  

Dr. Shona Halson is an associate professor in the School of Behavioral and Health Sciences at Australian Catholic University. Prior to her current research on sleep, she was a senior physiologist at the Australian Institute of Sport for 15 years. She has a Ph.D. in exercise physiology and has over 100 peer-reviewed publications in the areas of sleep, recovery, fatigue, and travel. Dr. Halson has served as the director of the Australian Olympic Committee Recovery Centre for three Olympic Games. She has helped countless athletes better understand the importance of sleep, and we’re excited to bring her knowledge to you today. 

In this episode, we’ll also hear from Dr. James Hull, a respiratory physician, who touches upon the importance of sleep when it comes to fighting infection; and Cameron Cogburn and Erica Clevenger both detail their sleep hygiene and routines to improve sleep quality.   

Time to put on your PJs. Let’s make you fast! 

REFERENCES
  • Miller DJ, Lastella M, Scanlan AT, Bellenger C, Halson SL, Roach GD, et al. A validation study of the WHOOP strap against polysomnography to assess sleep. J Sport Sci 2020:1–6. https://doi.org/10.1080/02640414.2020.1797448. 
  • Halson SL, Lastella M. Amazing Athletes With Ordinary Habits: Why Is Changing Behavior So Difficult? Int J Sport Physiol 2017;12:1273–4. https://doi.org/10.1123/ijspp.2017-0632. 
  • Halson SL, Juliff LE. Chapter 2 Sleep, sport, and the brain. Prog Brain Res 2017;234:13–31. https://doi.org/10.1016/bs.pbr.2017.06.006. 
  • Driller MW, Mah CD, Halson SL. Development of the athlete sleep behavior questionnaire: A tool for identifying maladaptive sleep practices in elite athletes. Sleep Sci 2018;11:37–44. https://doi.org/10.5935/1984-0063.20180009. 
  • Halson SL, Jeukendrup AE. Does Overtraining Exist?: An Analysis of Overreaching and Overtraining Research. Sports Med 2004;34:967–81. https://doi.org/10.2165/00007256-200434140-00003. 
  • Jones MJ, Dawson B, Gucciardi DF, Eastwood PR, Miller J, Halson SL, et al. Evening electronic device use and sleep patterns in athletes. J Sport Sci 2018;37:864–70. https://doi.org/10.1080/02640414.2018.1531499. 
  • Sargent C, Lastella M, Halson S, Roach G. How much sleep does an elite athlete need? Sleep Med 2019;64:S335–6. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sleep.2019.11.937. 
  • Jones MJ, Dawson B, Eastwood PR, Halson SL, Miller J, Murray K, et al. Influence of Electronic Devices on Sleep and Cognitive Performance During Athlete Training Camps. J Strength Cond Res 2019;Publish Ahead of Print:NA; https://doi.org/10.1519/jsc.0000000000002991. 
  • Saw AE, Halson SL, Mujika I. Monitoring Athletes during Training Camps: Observations and Translatable Strategies from Elite Road Cyclists and Swimmers. Sports 2018;6:63. https://doi.org/10.3390/sports6030063. 
  • Halson SL. Monitoring Training Load to Understand Fatigue in Athletes. Sports Med 2014;44:139–47. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-014-0253-z. 
  • Night Games: Physiological, Neuroendocrine and Psychometric Mechanisms to Explain Poor Sleep n.d. 
  • Halson SL, Shaw G, Versey N, Miller DJ, Sargent C, Roach GD, et al. Optimisation and Validation of a Nutritional Intervention to Enhance Sleep Quality and Quantity. Nutrients 2020;12:2579. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12092579. 
  • Kouw IW, Holwerda AM, Trommelen J, Kramer IF, Bastiaanse J, Halson SL, et al. Protein Ingestion before Sleep Increases Overnight Muscle Protein Synthesis Rates in Healthy Older Men: A Randomized Controlled Trial. J Nutrition 2017;147:2252–61. https://doi.org/10.3945/jn.117.254532. 
  • Halson SL. Sleep Monitoring in Athletes: Motivation, Methods, Miscalculations and Why it Matters. Sports Med 2019;49:1487–97. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-019-01119-4. 
  • Halson SL. Sleep in Elite Athletes and Nutritional Interventions to Enhance Sleep. Sports Med 2014;44:13–23. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-014-0147-0. 
  • Romyn G, Robey E, Dimmock JA, Halson SL, Peeling P. Sleep, anxiety and electronic device use by athletes in the training and competition environments. Eur J Sport Sci 2015;16:301–8. https://doi.org/10.1080/17461391.2015.1023221. 
  • Kölling S, Duffield R, Erlacher D, Venter R, Halson SL. Sleep-Related Issues for Recovery and Performance in Athletes. Int J Sport Physiol 2019;14:144–8. https://doi.org/10.1123/ijspp.2017-0746. 
  • Halson SL. Stealing sleep: is sport or society to blame? Brit J Sport Med 2016;50:381. https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsports-2015-094961. 
  • Lastella M, Roach GD, Halson SL, Sargent C. The effects of cold water immersion on the amount and quality of sleep obtained by elite cyclists during a simulated hill climbing tour. Sport Sci Heal 2019;15:223–8. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11332-018-0522-6. 
  • Lastella M, Roach GD, Vincent GE, Scanlan AT, Halson SL, Sargent C. The Impact of Training Load on Sleep During a 14-Day Training Camp in Elite, Adolescent, Female Basketball Players. Int J Sport Physiol 2020;15:724–30. https://doi.org/10.1123/ijspp.2019-0157. 

Episode Transcript

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