Ever since i started my triathlon training, i’ve been going to bed earlier and earlier. I thought it was because i’m just getting old (turning 30 in 2 weeks), but today the NY Times has informed me that it is because i’m now an “endurance athlete” and these athletes require much more sleep than regular people. There’s a scientific reason for this….
One possibility, Dr. Chediak said, is that cytokines — hormones that signal the immune system — are making these athletes sleep so much.
Exercise, Dr. Chediak said, prompts muscles to release two cytokines, interleukin 6 and tumor necrosis factor alpha, that make people drowsy and prolong the time they remain sleeping. In fact, those cytokines also are released when people have a cold or infection, which is why people sleep so much when they are ill.
It turns out that the single most important factor for increasing the release of those two cytokines is increasing the duration and intensity of exercise, Dr. Chediak said. And, he noted, that’s what is happening when endurance athletes train. “A sprint will not get you as great an effect,” he said.
Go ahead and read the entire article HERE if you’re interested.