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Biological clock

“Train like a champion”, that’s what you’re told. But has anyone discussed the importance of sleep with you? If so, have they offered any tips for effective sleep?

In part 1 I covered:

  • The importance of sleep
  • How a good night’s sleep occurs way before bedtime and;
  • How to apply expert strategies to optimise sleep your sleep tonight

In part 2 I want to introduce a very simple technique you can use to know whether you’re getting the quality sleep you need.

But first, another piece of interesting science. Watch this TED talk to find out how sleep actually cleans the brain.

There’s an app for that

There really is… a search for “sleep app” in the Apple ‘app store’ returns 4160 results. Obviously not all of these are “sleep apps” but there’s probably more than a few.

So what are these sleep apps?

Sleep apps reportedly record you snoozing and some even define the type of sleep you’re getting (the sleep phase). They try and do this by tracking your body movements during sleep by using the accelerometer in your phone. The app then makes an assumption about what sleep phase you’re in depending upon movement.

For example, if you’re moving around a lot then you’re probably in a light sleep cycle such as stage 1 or 2. If the accelerometer isn’t picking up much movement then you’re probably in a deep sleep cycle such as stage 3.

Hypnogram showing sleep cycles from midnight to morning.
Sleep Hypnogram” by I, RazerM. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

But are these sleep apps valid tools to assess your sleep? In other words, do they measure what they say they’re measuring.

Sleep analysis

Two pieces of research suggest they don’t.  The first (you can read here), concluded that none of the sleep apps they reviewed were based on strong scientific evidence, unless they included a validated short questionnaire.

The second (that you can read here) suggested that until these apps can match the medical gold-standard, they should be used along with some common sense.

Sleep app

One app (out of the 4160) is Sleep Time. Given the research that’s been done, I don’t worry too much about all the statistics it throws out.

What it’s useful for is setting and quantifying your sleep goal. I know that I need at least 8 hours sleep after a heavy training day. If you’re training twice a day you might need 10 hours. I know that on a lighter day I can just about get away with 7 to 8 hours. Sleep Time 1

Sleep Time 2

I can also check the consistency of the my sleep and wake times. In part 1 I mentioned that having a regular sleep and wake time was good practice. I try to go to bed at 10 pm and I’ll wake at 6:30 am.


We’d recommend that you assess the amount of sleep you’re getting. You might be a little surprised about how little you get or how inconsistent it is. Remember sleep is very important, especially for young athletes.

A recent piece of research suggested that chronic lack of sleep is associated with increased sports injuries in adolescent athletes.

They found that young athletes who got less than 8 hours sleep nearly doubled their risk of injury.

Check your zzzz’s.

Good night.