Wellness, Home & Lifestyle, Science & Tech

Sleep to Thrive

Matthew Walker

Lesson time 13:07 min

Matthew talks about the importance of sleep for optimal physical and mental performance.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Sleep to Heal • Sweat It Out • Brain Strengthening


[MUSIC PLAYING] - Even in this modern day and age, I don't think we pay enough attention to the impact of sleep on our physical and our athletic performance, certainly not based on the evidence and the strength of that evidence. In fact, sleep may be the greatest legal performance-enhancing drug that too few athletes are abusing enough in this modern day and age. A lack of sleep will erode our physical performance and our athletic ability in a number of interesting and critical ways. But when we get sufficient sleep, sleep will actually optimize those systems so that we can actually achieve all of the peak performance capacities that we've both been training for and that we're capable of. First, we know that a lack of sleep will decrease your peak performance strength, for example, your peak vertical jump height or your peak lifting ability to bench press or to squat a certain amount of weight. Second, we know that a lack of sleep will decrease the ability of your lungs to expire carbon dioxide and inhale oxygen. And as a result and related third, a lack of sleep will actually decrease your time to physical exhaustion. So let's say that you are a runner and that you've been training for a 10-kilometer race, a 10K race. And you've been diligently training. And you've optimized your fitness for 10 kilometers. But in the days leading up to the race, you're not getting the sleep that you need. Well, a lack of sleep can compromise your physical exhaustion and drop you down by somewhere between 15% to 30%. In other words, you may find that you are physically exhausted by kilometer 7 rather than kilometer 10. We also know that a lack of sleep will even prevent your body from being able to perspire or sweat in an optimal manner. Why is that important? Well, when your body temperature gets too high, there are a collection of biological and physiological functions that start to degrade. And as they degrade, so too does your physical performance. So sweating is actually a key cooling mechanism as we're becoming physically active and working out that helps us keep at that optimal level of peak performance. But when we're not getting enough sleep, we don't perspire as efficiently. And as a result, we can't cool our bodies as effectively anymore. Another aspect of this equation is the buildup of lactic acid. What we know is that individuals who are not getting sufficient sleep are more likely to develop faster accumulation rates of lactic acid in the muscles. And that can lead them into muscle spasm or what many of us think of as these athletic cramps that you can go into, these very painful lactic acid cramps. And that can take you out of the sporting event very quickly as well. The final way in which a lack of sleep can impact our physical performance is perhaps one that athletes and maybe all of us should be most concerned about. And that is injury risk. And now there've been a collection of studies that have assessed the relatio...

About the Instructor

As a professor of neuroscience and psychology at UC Berkeley and the director of the Center for Human Sleep Science, Matthew Walker is an expert on sleep. In this class, he will illuminate the science behind sleep and teach you how to increase the quality and quantity of your sleep. Learn how to prevent sleep debt, navigate the effects of alcohol and caffeine, and improve your health. Your best sleep starts tonight.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Matthew Walker

Neuroscience professor Matthew Walker teaches you the science of sleep and how to optimize it to better your overall health.

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