Nocturnal dreams can be considered as a kind of simulation of the real world on a higher cognitive level. Within lucid dreams, the dreamer is able to control the ongoing dream content and is free to do what he or she wants. In this pilot study, the possibility of practicing a simple motor task in a lucid dream was studied. Forty participants were assigned to a lucid dream practice group, a physical practice group and a control group. The motor task was to toss 10-cent coins into a cup and hit as many as possible out of 20 tosses. Waking performance was measured in the evening and on the next morning by the participants at home. The 20 volunteers in the lucid dream practice group attempted to carry out the motor task in a lucid dream on a single night. Seven participants succeeded in having a lucid dream and practiced the experimental task. This group of seven showed a significant improvement in performance (from 3.7 to 5.3); the other 13 subjects showed no improvement (from 3.4 to 2.9). Comparing all four groups, the physical practice group demonstrated the highest enhancement in performance followed by the successful lucid dream practice group. Both groups had statistically significant higher improvements in contrast to the nondreaming group and the control group. Even though the experimental design is not able to explain if specific effects (motor learning) or unspecific effects (motivation) caused the improvement, the results of this study showed that rehearsing in a lucid dream enhances subsequent performance in wakefulness. To clarify the factors which increased performance after lucid dream practice and to control for confounding factors, it is suggested that sleep laboratory studies should be conducted in the future. The possibilities of lucid dream practice for professional sports will be discussed.
Daniel Erlacher and Michael Schredl
David Herzig, Moreno Testorelli, Daniela Schäfer Olstad, Daniel Erlacher, Peter Achermann, Prisca Eser, and Matthias Wilhelm
It is increasingly popular to use heart-rate variability (HRV) to tailor training for athletes. A time-efficient method is HRV assessment during deep sleep.
To validate the selection of deep-sleep segments identified by RR intervals with simultaneous electroencephalography (EEG) recordings and to compare HRV parameters of these segments with those of standard morning supine measurements.
In 11 world-class alpine skiers, RR intervals were monitored during 10 nights, and simultaneous EEGs were recorded during 2–4 nights. Deep sleep was determined from the HRV signal and verified by delta power from the EEG recordings. Four further segments were chosen for HRV determination, namely, a 4-h segment from midnight to 4 AM and three 5-min segments: 1 just before awakening, 1 after waking in supine position, and 1 in standing after orthostatic challenge. Training load was recorded every day.
A total of 80 night and 68 morning measurements of 9 athletes were analyzed. Good correspondence between the phases selected by RR intervals vs those selected by EEG was found. Concerning root-mean-squared difference of successive RR intervals (RMSSD), a marker for parasympathetic activity, the best relationship with the morning supine measurement was found in deep sleep.
HRV is a simple tool for approximating deep-sleep phases, and HRV measurement during deep sleep could provide a time-efficient alternative to HRV in supine position.
Sarah Kölling, Rob Duffield, Daniel Erlacher, Ranel Venter, and Shona L. Halson
The body of research that reports the relevance of sleep in high-performance sports is growing steadily. While the identification of sleep cycles and diagnosis of sleep disorders are limited to lab-based assessment via polysomnography, the development of activity-based devices estimating sleep patterns provides greater insight into the sleep behavior of athletes in ecological settings. Generally, small sleep quantity and/or poor quality appears to exist in many athletic populations, although this may be related to training and competition context. Typical sleep-affecting factors are the scheduling of training sessions and competitions, as well as impaired sleep onset as a result of increased arousal prior to competition or due to the use of electronic devices before bedtime. Further challenges are travel demands, which may be accompanied by jet-lag symptoms and disruption of sleep habits. Promotion of sleep may be approached via behavioral strategies such as sleep hygiene, extending nighttime sleep, or daytime napping. Pharmacological interventions should be limited to clinically induced treatments, as evidence among healthy and athletic populations is lacking. To optimize and manage sleep in athletes, it is recommended to implement routine sleep monitoring on an individual basis.
Michael Kellmann, Maurizio Bertollo, Laurent Bosquet, Michel Brink, Aaron J. Coutts, Rob Duffield, Daniel Erlacher, Shona L. Halson, Anne Hecksteden, Jahan Heidari, K. Wolfgang Kallus, Romain Meeusen, Iñigo Mujika, Claudio Robazza, Sabrina Skorski, Ranel Venter, and Jürgen Beckmann
The relationship between recovery and fatigue and its impact on performance has attracted the interest of sport science for many years. An adequate balance between stress (training and competition load, other life demands) and recovery is essential for athletes to achieve continuous high-level performance. Research has focused on the examination of physiological and psychological recovery strategies to compensate external and internal training and competition loads. A systematic monitoring of recovery and the subsequent implementation of recovery routines aims at maximizing performance and preventing negative developments such as underrecovery, nonfunctional overreaching, the overtraining syndrome, injuries, or illnesses. Due to the inter- and intraindividual variability of responses to training, competition, and recovery strategies, a diverse set of expertise is required to address the multifaceted phenomena of recovery, performance, and their interactions to transfer knowledge from sport science to sport practice. For this purpose, a symposium on Recovery and Performance was organized at the Technical University Munich Science and Study Center Raitenhaslach (Germany) in September 2016. Various international experts from many disciplines and research areas gathered to discuss and share their knowledge of recovery for performance enhancement in a variety of settings. The results of this meeting are outlined in this consensus statement that provides central definitions, theoretical frameworks, and practical implications as a synopsis of the current knowledge of recovery and performance. While our understanding of the complex relationship between recovery and performance has significantly increased through research, some important issues for future investigations are also elaborated.