Changing your body clock could considerably improve your morning training sessions, and it’s easier than you’d think.
A sustained blast of bright light in the evening could dramatically improve your morning training, according to a recent study carried out at the Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences (RISES) at Liverpool John Moores University.
It was discovered that 30 minutes’ exposure to artificial bright light (2,500 lux) in the evening can delay the body clock. The result was a 7.2% improvement in a 10km time trial the following morning, in comparison with a control group (all participants did the test twice, once with light therapy and once without).
The science bit centres on how the exposure to light impacts on core body temperature (CBT). In normal circumstances this dips to its lowest level a few hours before wake-up. The bright light delays this sleep-trough CBT by 1 3⁄4 hours, so the cyclists began their training with a lower temperature.
A lower CBT prior to and during training can improve performance. That’s why many elite athletes use ‘pre-cooling’ techniques such as cold drinks and rooms, cooling vests, cold packs and cold water immersion. Cold drinks have been proven to boost performance by up to 15%.
For competitors seeking marginal performance gains, such methods might prove advantageous, but we would recommend further research.
Brightness of the Light
On a clear spring day, natural brightness is about 2000 lux. A household lightbulb emits a very low level of lux, less than 100. Specialist high-output lamps can generate about 2000 lux, while lightboxes designed to combat SAD (Seasonal Adjustment Disorder) can go up to 10,000 lux output – and you’d still need to sit 25-35cm from the light. (Source: lumie.com)