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The likelihood of breaking an Olympic record is clearly tied to time of day"the best chance is in the early afternoon at the natural peak of the human circadian rhythm. So, what's a circadian rhythm? Basically, it's an internal 24-hour clock. Circadian = circa, meaning "around" + dian (derivative of diam) meaning "day."
Our circadian rhythm runs in the background and cycles between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals. It's also known as our sleep/wake cycle. Circadian rhythm controls other rhythmic patterns besides our sleep/wake cycle"our time preferences for eating and drinking, energy and hormone levels, metabolic rate, and even body temperature. Our circadian rhythm works best when we have regular sleep habits, like going to bed at night and waking up in the morning around the same times from day to day (including weekends).
Source: Why We Sleep
, Matthew Walker
Our brain cells shrink by up to 60% while we're sleeping to make space for glial cells to rid our brain of waste. The glial cells delete synaptic connections that are not being used to clear space for new pathways in the brain that can then be used to store new information. Allowing brain cells to shrink overnight actually gives us the mental clarity we need to solve problems and make new memories.
Source: Fast Company
Getting over 6 hours of sleep may decrease injury rates as sleep provides an opportunity for the body to repair and rejuvenate itself and to "restore" what is lost in the body while we are awake. Major restorative functions such as muscle growth, tissue repair, protein synthesis occur mostly during sleep.
Source: Harvard & Fatigue Science
Slow Wave Sleep
The more physically active we are, the more time we spend in deep sleep, or slow wave sleep"
when our bodies are known to restore muscle tissue. Athletes who put their bodies under a lot of stress and physical pressure, spend proportionately more time in slow wave sleep. The production of growth hormone is common in this type of sleep and is crucial to tissue regeneration and repair. A deeper, better sleep will increase muscle recovery time and help optimize performance for the next day.
Source: US National Library of Medicine
Sleep clears the body of adenosine, resulting in an alert, awake feeling when we wake up. While we're awake, neurons in the brain produce adenosine, a by-product of the cells' activities. The build-up of adenosine in the brain is thought to be one factor that leads to our perception of being tired. This feeling is counteracted by the use of caffeine, which blocks the actions of adenosine in the brain and keeps us alert.
Scientists think that this build-up of adenosine during wakefulness may promote the "drive to sleep."