Sleep your way to the top!

A study fresh from Australia has underscored the effectiveness of sleeping at altitude to help improve athletic performance in team intermittent sports.

Published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, the researchers from Victoria University took 15 Aussie Rules football players and measured their performance over a 1km and 2km time trial. The players also had their haemoglobin mass (red blood cell count) measured before venturing into their altitude tents for the night.

The LHTL group then spent the next 19 nights sleeping at approx. 3000m simulated altitude, in the format of 3×5 nights and 1×4 nights each separated by 2 nights sleeping at sea level. A control group slept at sea level (normoxia) for the same amount of time, and both groups followed the same training plan throughout the trial.

Post-19 nights at altitude, it was found that the LHTL group had increased haemoglobin mass, and improved both their 1km and 2km time trial performance.

The researchers also tested the LHTL group after 5 and 15 nights’ hypoxic sleep and found no significant improvements until after 19 nights’ hypoxic sleep.

This protocol – Live-High Train-Low (LHTL) – is one altitude training protocol that has been proven by research to be effective. LHTL suggests training at sea level but spending as much non-training time in hypoxia. The best way to do this is to sleep at altitude, guaranteeing at least six hours of exposure to hypoxic air a day.

Details of the effectiveness of other protocols – such as Train-High Live-Low (THLL) – can be found on our Research pages.

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Study details: LHTL Improves Repeated Time-Trial and Yo-Yo IR2 Performance in Sub-Elite Team-Sport Athletes
J Sci Med Sport (28, 2016)
Authors: Inness, Billaut & Aughey