Over the years, it has become clear that sleep is a vital physiological function crucial to athletic recovery. Sleep deprivation has been shown to adversely impact many aspects of athletic performance including reaction times, accuracy, vigor, submaximal strength, and endurance (Vitale et al., 2019). Because of this, athletes must optimize their sleep as a key foundational element of their training system.
So what can we do to optimize our sleep so that we can experience better recovery and performance?
Top tips for better sleep:
Establish a regular bedtime routine. Having a routine each evening before bed will help you relax. Some examples we love are reading for ten minutes, taking a warm bath, and limiting screen time one hour before bed.
Optimize your sleep environment: Make sure that your bedroom is quiet, dark and cool.
Incorporate meditation and brainwave entrainment. Rewire’s mindset recovery and binaural beats are perfect for this.
Reduce mental fatigue. Recovery from exercise should not only focus on muscle recovery, reducing mental fatigue and strain from other external stressors in life is just as important for healthy sleep. Read more about becoming mentally strong here.
Optimize your nutrition. Consuming foods higher in carbohydrates, proteins and foods containing naturally occurring melatonin (e.g. tomatoes, walnuts, raspberries) at night may improve sleep. Try to avoid caffeine and alcohol if possible. More better energy during the day, check out our article on foods to fight fatigue here!
BONUS TIP: Try a ‘Sleep Better‘ Mindset Recovery Session on the Rewire App!
The “Sleep Better” collection has been designed to help you improve and optimize your sleep. The collection includes both active and passive sessions to be used prior to sleep, during sleep or to help overcome a poor night’s sleep.
Sources Vitale, K. C., Owens, R., Hopkins, S. R., & Malhotra, A. (2019). Sleep Hygiene for Optimizing Recovery in Athletes: Review and Recommendations. International journal of sports medicine, 40(8), 535–543. https://doi.org/10.1055/a-0905-3103
https://rewirefitness.app/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/Optimize-Sleep.png6871030Daniellehttps://rewirefitness.app/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Rewire_Fitness_menu_logo_340x79-full-1.pngDanielle2022-03-27 14:23:392023-03-15 12:54:05How to Optimize Your Sleep for Recovery.
What separates elite athletes from the rest? What helps them constantly succeed? What do they do differently?
It all comes down to mindset.
While all of those competing at a professional level are talented, it is those with the right mindset who succeed.
Here are a few of our top tips for achieving the right mindset for athletic performance:
Establish a Growth Mindset:
Throw away the belief that your abilities are fixed or that any athletic talent is innate. Instead, embrace a growth mindset that you are capable of improving and reaching higher levels of athletic performance through continuous effort, discipline and learning. You can read more about the Growth Mindset Here.
Positive self-talk can improve your performance mindset by reducing stress, anxiety and any negative thought patterns. This technique allows you to become more relaxed, focused and concentrated.
Try Rewire’s Pre-Workout Primer sessions, which includes self-talk mantras, to improve your mindset before your next intense training session.
Visualize The Process of Achieving Your Goals:
Believe it or not, mentally visualizing the image of what you want to happen or feel can enhance your sport performance in real life. Think of one of your main goals right now and try to spend some time visualizing the full scenario of how you will achieve it. You can also mentally rehearse certain skills so that you’re able to build both experience and confidence in your ability to perform them under pressure or in various scenarios.
Before your next competition, try one of our Competition Mindset Prep sessions, including visualization cues amongst other mindfulness protocols.
Build Mental Resilience:
By training mental resilience, athletes are able to push beyond their perceived limits of performance. Rewire’s Neuro-Training protocols work to reduce perception of effort; increase tolerance to mental fatigue; and allows you to reach a new level of performance. Like training our muscles, the more we train our mental resilience, the more resilient we become.
Achieving the right mindset for performance can be difficult, so let Rewire help guide you on the way! The right attitude can boost your performance and unlock your ultimate potential.
Before your next workout, try one of our Pre-Workout Priming Sessions, such as ‘Step-Up‘ which features Step-Up beathing, Self-Talk and Subliminal Priming and is designed to optimize your mind and body for performance.
https://rewirefitness.app/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/B7945E57-1782-4B09-9D26-E2CD61307C79.jpeg6871030Daniellehttps://rewirefitness.app/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Rewire_Fitness_menu_logo_340x79-full-1.pngDanielle2022-03-27 14:00:432022-06-16 10:35:58How to Achieve the Right Mindset for Performance
If you are an athlete (of any level) you have most likely tracked your workouts in a number of ways. From subjective metrics such as the rate of perceived exertion (RPE, or how hard a workout feels), to distance, duration, power, heart rate, pace or speed, as well as compound metrics such as Strava’s Relative Effort or Training Peak’s TSS, these can all serve a purpose in our quest to quantify the stimulus we apply with training.
However, an equally important (or maybe more important?) question we want to answer is the following: how are you responding to training? After you went out for your session, did your body bounce back from that homeostatic disruption? How long did it take? Are you ready for another high intensity session or should you take it easy another day or two?
Being able to answer these questions can help us avoid a potential state of negative adaptation and hinder performance outcomes in the long term. Here is when Heart Rate Variability (HRV) comes to the rescue.
What is HRV?
HRV is a term that refers to ways to summarize in a number the variability between heartbeats. The variation between heartbeats results from the activity of the autonomic nervous system in response to stress. As the body is continuously re-adjusting to maintain a state of balance, called homeostasis, heart rate, blood pressure, glucose level, hormones, etc. — react to the challenges we face and the autonomic nervous system works to keep everything in balance so that we can function optimally (e.g. do not develop chronic conditions, or improve our performance). Heart rhythm (and therefore HRV) is regulated by the parasympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system, the one in charge of rest and relaxation. Hence, measuring HRV is an effective way to capture how the body is doing while trying to maintain a state of balance in response to different stressors (training, lifestyle, etc.).
In particular, a reduction in certain HRV features typically means that parasympathetic activity is reduced, and therefore we have not fully recovered or in general, there is more stress in our lives. At rest, the body is predominantly parasympathetic, which is why HRV analysis today is mostly focused on identifying reductions in parasympathetic activity, captured by features such as rMSSD (the root mean square of successive differences in RR intervals). The use of rMSSD is motivated by physiological mechanisms: the vagus nerve acts on receptors signaling nodes to modulate pulse on a beat to beat basis while sympathetic activity has different pathways with slower signaling. Hence beat to beat changes captured mathematically by rMSSD reflect parasympathetic activity, also called vagal influence.
This means that when we train or face other stressors, HRV is typically reduced at the acute level (during and right after the stressor). Additionally, if the stressor is particularly large (say, a hard race), or if we are responding poorly to a series of stressors (for example a block of high intensity sessions), HRV can remain suppressed for several days or longer. This is a typical sign of negative adaptation, something we can avoid by better managing and adjustring training, based on our unique physiological response.
What about non-training related stressors?
One of the key aspects of measuring HRV and using it to gauge readiness or guide training, is its ability to track your stress response regardless of the source. What does this mean? No matter if stress comes from training, work, getting sick, poor lifestyle, or some unexpected event, it will have an effect on our ability to cope with additional stressors and perform. HRV is an overall marker of stress and will be affected by pretty much any factor that has an influence on your autonomic nervous system, making it a great tool for training management.
How can you measure your HRV with Rewire?
HRV forms a part of Rewire’s Readiness Assessmentand can be measured live in the background from your Bluetooth Heart Rate Monitor. It can also be read from a health app like Oura or Apple Health. We have seen how HRV is a global marker of stress and also how it is typically impacted acutely by any sort of stressor. This comes at a cost: we cannot just measure HRV anytime and use the data reliably, as HRV will typically reflect changes in heart rate modulation due to a myriad of transitory stressors we might not be really interested in (e.g. having coffee, or walking up the stairs). Timing of the measurement becomes key if we want to assess baseline physiological stress in response to larger acute and chronic stressors, and use this data for daily adjustments.
Almost the entirety of research up to date has been carried out with morning HRV measurements, hence this is typically the preferred protocol and also what is implemented in Rewire, where you can also set reminders to help you make the morning readiness assessment a part of your daily morning routine.
The Readiness Assessment should be taken first thing in the morning, while in a rested physiological state. While in the past subjects in clinical studies were asked to go to the lab, avoiding eating, drinking and exercising in the 2 hours preceding a measurement, waiting between 10 and 30 minutes before the measurement to get back into that relaxed state, things are much simpler now due to the technological improvements that allow users to measure simply using their phones. Ideally, measurements should be taken as soon as a person wakes up, while still in bed. The morning routine, or having a standard measurement protocol should sound familiar in many situations, for example measuring weight before breakfast, measuring blood pressure in standard conditions (sitting, arm position, etc), and similarly, assessing readiness to determine the impact of training and lifestyle on physiological stress and recovery needs.
Body position and measurement duration
In terms of body position, lying down, sitting or standing are good alternatives, but in case you do not lie down, make sure to wait a few seconds before measuring, and use the same body position each day. Several studies have also shown that for time domain features representative of parasympathetic activity, such as rMSSD, the most commonly used metric in today’s tools, 60 seconds are sufficient.
Measuring Readiness daily is best to obtain useful data as it establishes a strong baseline for HRV. It also means you can check in regularly with your readiness, allowing you to make smarter training and recovery decisions. Since Rewire also collects a range of cumulative data points such as training load and mental load, checking in daily ensures that there is a more complete data set involving the highs and lows of your training and work. Measuring daily is also often easier to remember, since it can form a part of your regular morning routine.
What to do (and not to do) while measuring
During the assessment, movement should be avoided, but there are also other aspects that can trigger artifacts and require a little more attention. In particular, yawning and swallowing should also be avoided, the latter for example causes a sort of instantaneous bradycardia that can affect the measurement.
HRV is affected by breathing. The question of using controlled or paced breathing or breathing naturally needs to be analyzed in the context of our target application, which is measuring physiological (chronic) stress first thing in the morning, longitudinally within an individual. One of the main reasons behind using paced breathing is that it is supposed to make the measurement more reliable and improve measurement repeatability. In our experience, this is not the case and letting people breathe freely feels much easier to most. In our tests we have highlighted how self-paced and paced breathing result in the same differences between consecutive measurements, hence proving that one way or the other is as effective. Thus, Rewire does not use paced breathing as part of the readiness assessment.
How can you use the data to adjust training?
At the beginning of this blog, I covered the physiological underpinnings of HRV measurement as well as key aspects of data collection: context and best practices. By following best practices meaningful data points truly representative of physiological stress can be collected. As technology today allows for easy data collection, many of the basic physiological mechanisms behind applied use of HRV (for example the acute drop in HRV after hard workouts) have been successfully identified in user-generated data. These types of analysis provide further evidence of the effectiveness of today’s technologies in capturing individual responses to stress. It’s important to remember that physiology is complex, and while acute stressors (such as a hard workout) and the resulting HRV changes are often repeatable and easy to understand, there might be other factors behind the relationships that we are seeing (or not seeing) in our data. No stressor acts in isolation, there’s always something going on with our lifestyle, training, health, and so on.
Let’s look at how we can use the data to adjust training. In the past decade, we have seen how HRV has been used to capture changes in training load, fitness and performance. In a landmark study, Kiviniemi et al. proposed a first protocol to guide training based on HRV readings, and analyzed changes in training load and VO2max in recreational runners following an HRV-guided program, compared to controls following regular periodization. The authors state that the basic idea of HRV guided training was to decrease the training stimulus when HRV decreased and maintain training stimulus high when HRV remained the same or increased. Often, HRV-guided training results in lower frequency of high intensity exercises compared to the control group. This is a common theme as most protocols aim at avoiding the application of too strong a stressor (e.g. a hard session) when the athlete is not physiologically ready (e.g. when HRV shows high stress present on the body). Based on this data, HRV guided training may adjust both the timing and amount of high-intensity exercises at individual level. Yet, in these studies, performance for the HRV-guided group improved, showing how the timing of the high intensity sessions does matter
Rewire uses HRV as well as other objective and subjective measures to provide you with training and recovery guidance. Readiness-guided training aims at providing the most appropriate training stimuli in a timely manner, when the body is ready to take it, so that positive adaptation will occur, leading to better health and performance outcomes.
After the initial studies by Kiviniemi et al. most researchers shifted their approach to one less coupled to day to day variability and acute stressors, trying to look at medium and long term trends and more significant stressors that might affect physiology chronically. With the new approach, we do not really care if a single daily score is below baseline, what we care about is that the baseline itself does not go below normal values. Intuitively, for the baseline to go below normal values, we need quite a few “bad days” (low HRV scores), therefore adjustring training less often and only when a stronger negative response is present.
Vesterinen et al. were able to show improved performance for the HRV-guided group using this protocol. In particular, the number of high intensity workouts was lower for the HRV-guided group, but despite the lower amount of high intensity exercise, the group was able to improve running performance over a 3000 m time trial. In a similar study, Javaloyes et al. examined the effect of training prescription based on HRV in road cycling performance. After 4 weeks baseline measurements, 17 well-trained cyclists were split into two groups, HRV-guided and traditional periodisation group. The training program lasted another 8 weeks, and performance measures were taken before and after the 8 weeks in both groups. In the study, the HRV guided group improved peak power output (by 5%) and 40 minutes time trial performance (by 7%), while the traditional periodisation group did not improve in any metric. The authors conclude that daily training prescription based on HRV could result in a better performance enhancement than a traditional periodization in well-trained cyclists.
Rewire‘s algorithm builds HRV into it’s readiness scores alongside a range of additional subjective and objective measures to provide a holistic approach to readiness. HRV impacts both Rewire’s Overall and Physical readiness score and training recommendationsare provided accordingly. Rewire also provides a Personalized Recovery Session that isolates particular weak points in your state and selects a session tailored to your goals for that day. This combination of training and recovery recommendations allows you to perform at your best.
In this blog, we have covered the basics of HRV, and why it matters. We have also provided useful tips and best practices for your morning Readiness Assessment, so that you can collect high-quality data representative of changes in baseline physiological stress, using the Rewire app.
Needless to say, HRV is not the only relevant marker to quantify readiness, and should be integrated with information related to training load as well as subjective metrics such as stress, frustration or muscle soreness, all aspects that might independently indicate potential issues. Rewire offers an integrated approach to readiness that combines all of these parameters to provide you with a comprehensive view of your readiness to train.
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https://rewirefitness.app/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/hrv-2.jpg6871030Marco Altinihttps://rewirefitness.app/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Rewire_Fitness_menu_logo_340x79-full-1.pngMarco Altini2021-09-17 09:03:492022-06-16 10:20:54Why Heart Rate Variability (HRV) is a Key Parameter in Rewire’s Readiness Score
Stoicism is an ancient school of thought founded by Zeno of Citium. Stoic Philosophy teaches that the path to eudaimonia (or happiness) is found through controlling the controllable and accepting the uncontrollable as they happen; living with Areté (or excellence/moral virtue), and by taking responsibility. Try to use these stoic quotes as an anchor on your journey towards mental toughness.
Write down these stoic quotes somewhere that you can see and keep reminding yourself of them as you work on developing your mental toughness.
https://rewirefitness.app/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Stoic.jpg7311030Ed Gibbinshttps://rewirefitness.app/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Rewire_Fitness_menu_logo_340x79-full-1.pngEd Gibbins2021-02-16 09:08:162022-06-18 04:20:18The Top 5 Stoic Quotes You Need to Know to Build Mental Toughness
Binaural beats are a form of brainwave entrainment that have been shown to have positive effects on stress, anxiety (1,2), focus (3), motivation, confidence and meditation (4). Binaural beats work when two different frequencies are heard, one in each ear. This creates a third tone, the binaural beat, whose frequency is the difference between the two other tones, e.g. if the tone in one ear is 400Hz and the other is 410Hz, the binaural beat is 10Hz. This binaural beat is shown to have a positive impact on the user’s mindset. It is important to note that stereo headphones are required to achieve a binaural beat since when using a speaker or non-stereo headphones the frequencies are already mixed outside the brain and hence no binaural beat is created.
The various tones of binaural beats affect the user differently. The following tones are used in the Rewire Mindset Recovery System:
0.5 – 3.5 Hz – Delta wave for deep sleep
In a 2018 study, participants who received this frequency during sleep entered deep sleep quicker and for longer (5). This allows participants to gain more of the benefits of deep sleep including physical recovery.
4.0 – 6.5 Hz – Theta for meditation/sleep
A 2017 study showed that even listening to a 6Hz binaural beat for just 10 minutes induced the user’s brain into a state similar to that achieved during meditation (4).
7.0 – 12.5 Hz – Alpha for relaxation/dreams
In a 1990 study, alpha wave binaural beats were shown to have a positive influence on the user’s relaxation (6).
Try a session here
13.0 – 38.5 – Beta for Activity
It has been shown that beta wave binaural beats can positively affect vigilance performance and mood (3), and a recent 2019 study showed that beta wave binaural beats have a positive impact on long term memory (7).
Binaural beats also have a positive effect in counteracting the negative effects of mental fatigue. A recent 2020 study showed that binaural beats reduce the negative effect of mental fatigue (8). This makes binaural beats an important part of mindset recovery and pre-competition preparation in sports to minimise the negative effects that mental fatigue is shown to have on endurance performance (9,10).
We have put together a demo of our mindset recovery system featuring theta wave binaural beats which you can watch and download below.
You can also try our Binaural Beats sessions for Rest, Recovery or Focus on the Rewire Fitness App for Free.
Our Pure Beats (Passive) collection has been designed to be used in passive mode without looking at the screen. It contains Binaural Beats at different frequencies for rest, recovery and focus. (Note that these sessions must be used with headphones to work properly).
Rest sessions: These passive recovery sessions include 2.0 Hz Delta Wave Binaural Beats designed for deep relaxation and recovery. These recovery sessions can be repeated as often as needed whenever you are feeling drained or short on sleep. The session lengths range from 2 Minutes to 120 minutes.
Balancesessions: These passive recovery sessions include 4.0 Hz Theta Wave Binaural Beats designed for achieving a calm meditative state. These recovery sessions can be repeated as often as needed whenever you need help getting into a calm mindset. The session lengths range from 2 Minutes to 120 minutes.
Focussessions: These passive focus sessions includes 13.0 Hz Beta Wave Binaural Beats designed for achieving a focused mental state. These sessions can be repeated as often as needed whenever you need help getting into a focused mindset for competition, training or work. The session lengths range from 2 Minutes to 120 minutes.