Humphry van Asdonck is a big fan of the Olympic Games. He was previously in the audience at the games in London and Rio de Janeiro, and this year he would also be there in Tokyo. “I had tickets for Japan, but later it became clear that no supporters would be welcome,” he tells EditieNL.
That is why he is now at home in front of the tube. “I took a holiday, because I want to see all Dutch athletes. I have made my own overview with all the exact dates and times of the competitions. I also share that program Twitter.”
Because many games are at night, Humphry has completely changed his sleep schedule. “Fortunately, I only need six hours of sleep. If a game starts at 4 AM, I just go to bed at 10 PM.”
It becomes more difficult when the match starts at 02:00. “Then I go to bed between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. and I also try to sleep a few hours after the game.”
Sleeping in cubes
Humphry also uses the moments between the games to sleep. “Sometimes there is a gap, for example between 5.00 and 8.00. Then I can still get three hours of sleep. And now and then I miss something, for example a hockey match against a less good country. But I have to make choices.”
Adjusting your sleep rhythm in itself is not an immediate problem, says somnologist Reinier de Groot of the Netherlands Sleep Institute. “Some people do this continuously because of changing working hours. Although not everyone can do it equally well. It also depends on your condition, age and how well someone is trained,” he tells EditieNL.
It can become problematic when people sleep in blocks – also known as fragmented sleep. “That is by definition not good and can lead to poor sleep and fatigue. In addition, it can affect cognitive functions, such as a person’s mood and mood. I think Humphry will notice the changes in his sleep rhythm anyway.”
De Groot advises sports fans not to open a beer during a match. “The effect of alcohol enhances the effect of poor sleep. Some people think they sleep better with a few glasses, but that’s an illusion. Even one glass of alcohol leads to a decrease in deep sleep and REM sleep.”
Caffeine is also not a good idea. “A lot of drinking is better for the fans anyway. That gives you a full bladder and then you wake up during your sleep to go to the toilet.” To sleep well, you must be in the relax position. “If you have a heavy conversation, have a banging argument or watch an exciting match, you don’t fall asleep right away.”
You can handle such a messy sleep better when you’re young. “But above forty it starts to become a thing. It is not for nothing that people with a profession with a lot of irregular hours, such as pilots, retire earlier.”
Deep sleep and REM sleep
It is important that you get enough deep sleep and enough REM sleep. “In the first half of your sleep you have more deep sleep and in the second half REM sleep is more common. So if you set your alarm clock in the first half of the night to watch a game, you have a good chance that you don’t get enough deep sleep. If you set the alarm clock in the second half of your sleep, you miss REM sleep,” says the somnologist.
The permanent damage for people who sleep a bit messy because of the Olympics in the coming period will not be too bad. “Usually you quickly return to your old rhythm. But if you continue to sleep badly, that is really a physical and psychological exhaustion. You just can’t handle that.”