How to Still Train Hard After an All Nighter

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Bad Night Sleep: Take this Supplement the Next Day

by: Robbie Durand

Caffeine is just about the most important supplement a person can take to enhance performance.   A review paper published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism concluded that taking a moderate dose of caffeine (~3mg/kg of body weight, or about 240 mg for a 175 pound person) can enhance performance across a wide range of sports and activities ranging from endurance exercise (i.e. running), team sports and high intensity workouts like interval cardio and strength training. Caffeine works to increase alertness thru many different mechanisms but caffeine works by blocking the adenosine receptor.  Adenosine is a inhibitory substance in the brain that normally binds to adenosine receptors and acts as a natural sedative.  In contrast, caffeine binds to adenosine receptors, thus blocking (i.e. antagonizing) adenosine’s effect and leading to increased neural activity and stimulation.

Many times due to the stresses of life, one may not be able to get a good night sleep, but sleep deprivation can definitely affect your performance the next day. With sleep deprivation comes slowed responses that influence speed and accuracy. In fact, prolonged sleep deprivation is comparable to “legal drunkenness”. Sleep loss appears to be more detrimental to the effect on anaerobic performance appears to become more apparent after several nights of restricted sleep. This was demonstrated in a study of the effect of partial sleep loss (3 hours of sleep per night for 3 consecutive nights) on muscle strength. In this study, there was a decrease in maximal bench press, leg press, and deadlift, but not maximal bicep curl. Researchers recently reported in the Journal of Biological Rhythm Research that caffeine can save your performance the next day if you miss out on a good nights sleep.

During the partial sleep deprivation condition, peak power, PM, squat jump, and vigilance were significantly higher after caffeine ingestion in comparison with placebo

Researchers evaluated the effects of caffeine ingestion and partial sleep deprivation at the end of night on cognitive and physical performance. In randomised order, fourteen football players  completed four test sessions at 08:00 h: after placebo or 3 mg·kg−1 of caffeine ingestion during a reference night, RN (bed time: from 10:30 pm to 07:00 am) or a night of partial sleep deprivation, (bed time: from 10:30 pm to 03:00 am). During each test session, participants assessed vigilance and reaction times and performed a series of tests: cancelation test, squat jumps (SJ), and the 30-s Wingate test (for the measurement of peak power and mean power). During the normal night sleep, results showed that peak power, squat jump, and vigilance increased after caffeine ingestion in comparison with placebo. Moreover, both simple and choice reactions were significantly better after caffeine ingestion in comparison with placebo ingestion. Results showed that reaction time, vigilance, and SJ were affected by partial sleep deprivation, even though peak power, and squat jump were not affected, the following day at 08:00 h. During the partial sleep deprivation condition, peak power, PM, squat jump, and vigilance were significantly higher after caffeine ingestion in comparison with placebo ingestion. However, both simple and choice reaction times were significantly poorer during partial sleep deprivation in comparison with athletes that got adequate sleep. Therefore, ingesting caffeine is an effective strategy to maintain physical and cognitive performances after partial sleep deprivation.

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Souissi, Makram, et al. “Morning caffeine ingestion increases cognitive function and short-term maximal performance in footballer players after partial sleep deprivation.” Biological Rhythm Research just-accepted (2015): 1-28.