Sleep deprivation can be a great concern among athletes. With busy schedules and rigorous training, getting adequate sleep can be difficult. Sleep plays an important part in the recovery and performance of athletes (12). Therefore, it is vital athletes make time to rest. But when sleep is hard to come by many athletes choose to combat their weariness with caffeine.

However, are you drinking enough caffeine? How tired are you?

Let’s take a look at some of the science:

A 2018 study (12), investigated the effect of sleep deprivation and use of caffeine on anaerobic capacity. Anaerobic exercise involves short periods of burst activity performed with high intensity (i.e., jumping, sprinting, heavy lifting).

Aerobic exercise, on the other hand, involves long periods of sustained light activity (i.e., jogging, swimming, cycling). Check out the effects of caffeine on aerobic activity here.

During this investigation, 11 male amateur athletes participated in physical sessions under the following interventions:

  • non-sleep deprived (normal sleep)
  • sleep-deprived and given a caffeine supplement (6 mg∙kg-1; ~432 mg)
  • sleep-deprived and given a placebo supplement

Each athlete was kept up for 24 hours before sleep-deprived sessions and randomly given a supplement, unaware if it was caffeine/placebo. Sessions were made competitive to encourage best performance, and athletes competed in pairs. Data was collected over a span of 3 days.

So, what exactly did they find?

Take a look at the graphs below. Like the researchers, you may also conclude there isn’t much difference across interventions.

In short, there was no significant effect of sleep deprivation and caffeine supplementation on anaerobic performance.

Vertical jump graphIllinois agility test graph20-meter sprint graph5-meter sprint graph

 

In fact, if you take a look at the table, you can see the reported numbers – very minimal differences.

Session Normal Sleep Sleep-Deprived with Caffeine Sleep-Deprived with Placebo
Vertical Jump    (cm) 45.3 ±3.4 44.3 ±4.8 44.6 ±4.8
Illinois agility test (s) 16.11 ±.44 16.14 ±.47 16.03 ±.40
20-meter sprint    (s) 3.26 ±.21 3.27 ±.24 3.26 ±.21
5-meter sprint      (s) 15.40 ±.62 15.56 ±.67 15.35 ±.61

 

What does this mean?

After that information, you may be thinking having an all-nighter won’t affect your performance. However, I suggest you take a moment to pause. Though other studies did have similar conclusions, this single study tested only young adult males. Woman and men can have different reactions to sleep deprivation (17) and caffeine (16).

This study also only measured up to 24-hours of sleep deprivation. Meanwhile, other studies suggest anaerobic power isn’t impaired until after 36-hours (14).

Also, here, participants were amateur athletes. However, studies have shown trained (higher level) athletes demonstrate significantly enhanced performance for anaerobic activity when using caffeine supplementation (3).

Moreover, different exercise modes could have also changed this study’s findings. A study done in 1998 utilized a Wingate test (rather than the Illinois agility test) and found significant increases in peak power and average power after ingestion of 5 mg∙kg-1 of caffeine (11).

So, are you drinking enough caffeine to get past that sleepy fog?

Caffeine is known to impact reaction time, cognition and mood following sleep deprivation (9, 15), but results can vary. Caffeine effects can be dose-dependent, as a result, depending on body mass, certain amounts of caffeine may not have an effect.

For instance, a single serving of Red Bull contains 80 mg of caffeine per 250 mL (~1 mg of caffeine per kg of body mass). Most studies who tested a single serving (1 mg∙kg-1 of caffeine) didn’t find significant improvement in performance (1, 5-8). In contrast, when two or three servings (~2-3 mg∙kg-1 of caffeine) were tested, results did show improvement (4-5, 10) in performance.

Let’s consider the caffeine dose here. This study used 6 mg∙kg-1 of caffeine for each individual. Though this is considered a high dose, no improvement in performance was noted. Considering the dose-dependent nature of caffeine, in addition to previously mentioned limitations, this may explain the results of this study.

Are you sleeping enough to maintain your body at optimum performance?

In conclusion, knowing you are tired and how it affects your performance is important. For instance, it allows you to know your limits and helps you stay on track to performing your best. Sportavida testing allows you to know how and when your body is tired, using innovative science.

For example, let’s say you start a new training regime, but your performance doesn’t appear to improve. In looking at your Sportavida reports, you see days where you took out that power nap, or when you had 2 cups of coffee vs one, result in lower levels of fatigue. Now you know those may be serving a benefit to your body’s fatigue level.

Sportavida reports allow you to know when your body is fatigued and how much. This information lets you better refine how you are training and/or supplementing your body, and most importantly, know the impact of your activity on your body.

If you are looking to improve you or your team’s performance, please contact us with any questions!

Finally, thank you for reading! I hope you feel more informed and if you have any comments, please feel free to give a shout out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

REFERENCES

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  16. https://www.caffeineinformer.com/caffeine-helps-women-better-than-men
  17. https://www.newsweek.com/women-suffer-more-men-staying-night-brain-798645
  18. https://www.scienceforsport.com/wingate-anaerobic-test/
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