The Power of Sleep: Team GB invest in sleep to help athletes perform at Paris 2024 Olympic Games

Dreams, Official Sleep Partner of Team GB and UK’s leading bed specialist, is supporting Team GB with a novel investment into athletes’ sleep for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

The investment is backed by research outlining the positive effects of napping on the improvement of physical and mental performance among athletes. [1]

For the first time ever, sleep pods will be available to athletes and staff at Team GB’s Performance Lodge, in Paris. Forming a now-crucial element of Team GB’s Games-time setup, the Performance Lodge is a single venue exclusive to Team GB where athletes can train, eat, rest, recover or otherwise prepare for competition away from the busy environment of the Olympic Village. The Dreams Sleep Retreat will feature eight sleep pods to help optimise the quantity and quality of sleep for athletes at the Games and provide additional opportunities to downregulate and take time away from the demands of their environment. It will also be optimised by Dreams for rest and sleep, to aid Team GB in one of the most important aspects of physical and cognitive recovery. This will include sound proofing, ambient lighting, including eradicating glare entirely and a safe box for phones and valuables to minimise distractions.

The decision to support athletes in daytime napping whilst competing was made by Greg Retter, Head of Performance Services for Team GB and guided by Dr. Luke Gupta, Performance Innovation Consultant at the UK Sports Institute – provider of world class science, medicine, technology, and engineering to Olympic sport in the UK. Plans for the Dreams Sleep Retreat were developed by drawing on Luke’s own research and expertise in tandem with a number of independent studies. One recent study found:

A post-lunch nap that lasts between 30-60 minutes has a beneficial effect on physical performance, boosts cognitive performance and reduces perceived fatigue

To avoid the impact of sleep inertia on performance, wait 60 minutes after a nap before undertaking sporting activity (sleep inertia is a temporary disorientation and decline in performance after awakening from sleep)

Napping can provide a supplemental benefit for sport performance, even for those who achieve optimal night-time sleep routines.

Team GB, Head of Performance Services, Greg Retter, said, “Travelling, competing in different time zones and experiencing unfamiliar sleeping conditions can all have an impact on the amount of sleep athletes are able to get at an Olympic Games. It’s always our aim to develop an environment that allows our athletes to perform at their best, and we’re looking forward to taking this one step further in Paris with the support of Dreams.”

UK Sports Institute Performance Innovation Consultant, Dr Luke Gupta, said: “Sleep is a pillar of athlete health, wellbeing and performance, and it is important athletes have the capability, and opportunity, to manage their sleep when put under strain at an Olympic Games. We know that taking a short nap can significantly boost alertness and have a positive impact on mental and physical performance, which is why the Dreams Sleep Retreat will be such a fantastic addition to the Team GB Performance Lodge.”

Dreams Ambassador and Olympic silver medal-winning weightlifter, Emily Campbell said: “I’m someone that’s quite extroverted in public, but it’s so important to me to have space and time to decompress around training, particularly in the lead up to an Olympic Games. Sleep is so important to my recovery, so it’s massively reassuring to know that Dreams is supporting me to be able to get the sleep I need to perform at my best in Paris.”

Dreams is further supporting Team GB athletes to combat the barriers to sleep in the athletes’ village with a series of sleep aids, in response to an athlete survey taken after the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The gifting pack for every athlete, includes an eye mask, loop ear plugs, a mattress topper for additional comfort, a cooling pillow, alongside a travel blanket and pillow that can be utilised for additional comfort when using the Dreams Sleep Retreat.

[1] Is daytime napping an effective strategy to improve sport-related cognitive and physical performance and reduce fatigue? A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials, Br J Sports Med: first published as 10.1136/bjsports-2022-106355 on 23 January 2023