We all know that sleep is important for health, fitness and well-being. Inadequate intake not only leaves you feeling groggy and lethargic, but we are also exposed to many articles that remind us of the connection between sleep, recovery, and performance enhancement. We have written quite a few ourselves.
It’s all about knowing theory. But I wanted to know exactly what difference getting the “right” amount of sleep would make. Uka
To find out, we used Garmin’s Fenix 7 smartwatch in combination to track resting heart rate, heart rate variability, and other variables. We also ran a series of fitness tests on the Turbo to track what was happening to our power and heart rate.
Then it was a simple case of allowing a series of bad nights of sleep and conducting an initial test. We conducted a test.
The results were very interesting. Heart rate was typically suppressed for a given power, especially when not well rested. Just looking at the numbers, it’s very easy for someone to mistake it for fitness improvements. A lower heart rate for a given power can mean that your body has become more efficient and healthier.
However, a closer look revealed that everything wasn’t as rosy as it seemed, and obvious signs that I was suffering from a great deal of fatigue.
So, without further ado, let’s jump into the numbers and tests I ran and see what a difference 8 hours of riding can make.
First, we had to choose which power test to actually perform. A simple FTP test on Zwift is the most obvious, but there are a myriad of factors that can affect the results of a maximal test.
With that in mind, I chose two sub-maximal power tests. increase.
The first was the Lambert’s Submaximal Cycling Test (LSCT), a straightforward 2-hour zone 2 (lactate threshold 1) aerobic endurance test. Both were conducted and compared using a heart rate monitor and power from his Wahoo Kicker V5 with Wahoo Powrlink Zero pedals.
The LSCT test is 60% of maximum heart rate (HRmax) for 6 minutes, followed by 80% of HRmax for 6 minutes, followed by 90% of HRmax for 3 minutes, ending with 90 seconds of no pedaling. . .
For consistency, I had fans for both tests with the same level of airflow, wore the same kit, and did the tests on days with similar temperature and humidity. There was no caffeine.
Here are the results of the first test (sleep deprivation):
· stage one. 110BPM – 167W – 79RPM
· stage two. 148BPM – 289W – 83RPM
· Stage 3. 165BPM – 342W – 89RPM
· stage 4. From 168BPM to 99BPM
Here are the results for the second (well rested):
· stage one. 112BPM -165W – 77RPM
· stage two. 149BPM – 293W – 88RPM
· Stage 3. 167BPM – 363W – 96RPM
· stage 4. From 169BPM to 90BPM
On paper, the results don’t look all that different, but if anything, my performance at rest actually seems worse, showing a higher hearing rate at similar watts. increase.
But the problem lies in the details, and when I look at my heart rate’s real-time response to changes in power, things start to become apparent.
My heart rate responded faster on the second test and didn’t drift upwards either. This can be seen in Stages 2 and 3 of the ‘resting’ test, where the heart rate is more consistent with the heart rate rather than slowing down. My strength is in the sleep deprivation test.
My heart rate also recovered faster in the final stages, possibly indicating better recovery and being in a more recovered state. I need to make sure it’s responding.
The second test was a 2 hour zone 2 aerobics ride. It was run turbo again to ensure consistent power output and using ERG mode (with a break to get out of the saddle every 15 minutes). Fueling, hydration, cadence and caffeine were all controlled.
What I was looking for was first heart rate (HR) for a given power output and then heart rate drift (the rate at which heart rate increases over the course of a ride while power remains constant). We also looked at his peak HR during 30 seconds of exercise during the last 15 minutes of the ride and his HR recovery after exercise.
The difference between the two tests was actually quite a change. Both ran at 205 watts (210 normalized power), but my HR was 138 BPM on the first test and 125 BPM on the second. In other words, in this case, heart rate was higher during sleep deprivation and lower during rest. what you would expect.
In other words, my efficiency factor (EF), the amount of watts (external work) normalized to heart rate (internal work), increased from 1.52 to 1.68. A higher EF indicates a better aerobic system. It’s more efficient because it can put out more power with less internal work load. We also found no upward cardiac drift in the resting test (-1.85%), whereas a significant amount (5.04%) was seen in the sleep deprivation test.
The final part of these tests was 30 seconds of maximum effort. What I was looking for here was a high maximum heart rate (to show better freshness) and a fast HR recovery to slow down the excellent ability to clear the metabolites produced by the sprint.
On the sleep deprivation test, my HR peaked at 170 BPM and never dipped below 148 in the remaining 15 minutes. On the resting test, my HR peaked at 183 (my HRmax was 185) and recovered to 129 over the remaining 15 minutes.
Another metric that varied between sleep deprivation and good rest was resting heart rate (RHR). This started at 51 at the start of the test and dropped to an average of 46 by the end of the 9 days. My heart rate variability (HRV) was fairly stable throughout the night and well within my good zone. It changes very little, but can be a useful indicator of your overall stress and recovery levels.
Besides testing, training, and numbers, another benefit of getting better sleep is daily energy levels, reduced food cravings, and better work productivity.
There were days when I exceeded the recommended amount of sleep, but based on these internal perceptions, I personally know that 8 to 9 hours of sleep is better. Getting the ideal amount of sleep is another important factor to remember.
Luckily, having one of the best smartwatches for cycling or tracking your inner perception is a great way to determine the best sleep time for you. By using both HRV and RHR, you can track how rest affects you. At the end of the day, whether at work or in training, the more stress you feel, the more rest you need to recover.
Therefore, a non-elevated RHR and a stable HRV within the appropriate range is a good way to ensure that fatigue is not getting out of hand, and we can assume that you are getting enough rest.
what did i learn?
What did you learn from tracking your sleep, improving your sleep quantity and quality, and tracking how it impacted your training? Both were improved, and fatigue levels were clearly reduced.
In addition to this, I felt more productive and energized on a daily basis. I know it’s a common trend that sleeping better makes you feel better, but seeing the quantifiable improvements from training is really impressive. They say rest is the best, and sleep is the best rest!