November 05, 2021 2 min read

Professor Matthew Walker said “Sleep is the greatest legal performance enhancing drug (PED) that most people are probably neglecting” in his book “Why We Sleep - Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams”. Walker is the leading scientific expert in sleep - director of UC Berkeley's Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab.    

We geek out on sleep at the HEST Basecamp. Outside of fishing, biking and skiing; sleep is in the top four warehouse conversations, so we strive to understand the science behind it. Why do our bodies need sleep? We lean on the professionals like Walker to explain this question because they know it best. Walker has spent over four years researching why we need sleep and how it impacts our mental and physical body.   



But why is sleep the greatest legal performance enhancing drug?Walker explains seven primary reasons why the top athletes in the world use sleep to their advantage and we should take note. 


7 Reasons Lack Of Sleep Will Impact Physical Performance. 

The easiest way to measure the performance impact of sleep is to look at what happens when you don't get enough. Studied athletes that slept 8 or less hours a night show: 

  1. physical exhaustion time will drop by 10%-30%
  2.  overall decrease in peak and sustained muscle strength including vertical jump height and limb extension force 
  3.  faster rate of lactic acid build up 
  4. reduction in blood oxygen saturation 
  5.  increase in blood carbon dioxide saturation 
  6.  decrease in body cool down performance by sweat 
  7.  higher risk to injury. Athletes that sleep 6 or less hours have a 80% higher risk of injuring themselves. [study from Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics



At HEST we aren’t olympic athletes, none of us will ever play on a professional team, but we do love to recreate in the outdoors. Whether it’s biking or skiing or long days out in the woods, we beat up on our bodies and we understand the importance of sleep and recovery. So as long as science is showing us that sleep is the key to physical performance and reducing the risk of injury we should make use of this powerful health tool.  



As said best by Walker, “If you don’t snooze you lose.” So why not get your eight hours of sleep when camping? Camping should be as comfortable as your home mattress so you don’t spend the night tossing and turning. Make sure to invest in sleeping comfort for the outdoors as much as your health. Remember your performance depends on it.


12 Tips For Good Sleep

If you would like to learn more about sleep or Walker’s work we suggest reading Why We Sleep. In the meantime, take his advice and following his 12 tips for good sleep aka “sleep hygiene”:  

  1. Stick to a sleep schedule 
  2.  Don’t exercise too late in the day  
  3.  Avoid caffeine and nicotine 
  4.  Avoid alcoholic drinks before bed  
  5.  Avoid larger meals and beverages late at night  
  6.  Avoid medicines that delay or disrupt your sleep (if possible) 
  7.  Don’t take naps after 3 p.m. 
  8.  Make sure to leave time to unwind before bed 
  9.  Take a hot bath before bed   
  10. Gadget-free bedroom  
  11.  Get the right sunlight exposure  
  12.  Don’t stay in bed if you can’t sleep



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