GAINcast Episode 210: Sleep science (with Pat Byrne)

Recently, it seems everyone has discovered the value of sleep. While we all know intuitively how important sleep can be, the science of sleep in sport has been slow to follow. Pat Byrne was a pioneer of developing sleep and fatigue programs in sports. On this week’s GAINcast he discusses what we know about sleep, and busts a few myths about sleep as well.

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Notes and quotes

Pat Byrne pioneered sleep and fatigue analysis and solutions in professional sports beginning in 2008. With over 30 years of experience in health, safety and performance optimization, Patrick brings a unique and successful approach to fatigue management. His systems have been implemented with teams in the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, MLS, AFL and Olympic and National Teams.

  • 0:00 – Introduction
  • 5:15 – Byrne’s background.
  • 9:00 – Discovering sleep.
  • 13:15 – Sleep in sport.
  • 16:30 – Experiences working with the Vancouver Canucks.
  • 18:45 – Travel, sleep, and scheduling.
  • 23:15 – Educating athletes on sleep: “Telling someone to sleep more is a bit like telling someone they need to quit smoking or lose weight. Everyone agrees, but how do I do it? There is a bit of hand holding required. Actually show them how sleep patterns affect our reaction time.”
  • 26:15 – Educating coaches.
  • 30:00 – Science-ish: “Some of the current thinking in sports science is built on shaky research. Especially the link between sleep and injuries. The relationship may be there, but that study doesn’t prove it.”
  • 35:30 – Sleep technology: “What are you going to do with the sleep data? If it’s not accurate, it just useless information that creates anxiety for athletes.”
  • 43:45 – Time in bed, sleep quality, and alcohol: “Just because you’re unconscious for 8 hours doesn’t mean you got 8 hours of good sleep.”
  • 45:45 – Individual variability.
  • 49:45 – Screen time and other quick sleep fixes: “The relationship between screen time and sleep is all theory. Until you actually diagnose someone don’t try to fix these things. It’s like the early days of strength and conditioning . . . throwing equipment into the room and hopefully people use it and it helps them, but you know at all the stuff has to be individualized.”
  • 54:15 – Jet lag and travel.
  • 59:00 – Necessity of naps: “If you get enough sleep at night, it should be difficult to nap during the day.”

To hear more about these topics you can listen to the full episode above. If you like what you hear on the GAINcast, don’t forget to give us a review and subscribe on iTunes.

Further reading

The following links were referenced in the podcast or provide some additional reading material on the topic: