LAURA SIDDALL: Sleeping Better With SKINS Compression Sleepwear

By: Laura Siddall, Professional Triathlete

Here at SKINS we are busy launching our compression sleepwear line… we chatted with SKINS Athlete and Professional Triathlete, Laura Siddall about the importance of sleep, lessons she’s learned through her career, and what she thought about SKINS Compression Sleepwear when she tested them out. Read on to see what she has to say.

Laura lounges comfortably in her SKINS Sleepwear. Photo courtesy of @protriathlontraining.

Sleep – we know how important it is for life. The best recovery tool. Countless studies on how sleep will improve our performance, reduce our fatigue and increase our perception of the effort it takes to perform. Even in everyday life (your corporate job or family at home), being rested will enable you to make better decisions, manage your emotions and control your food cravings.

Yet not many of us prioritize sleep or prioritize it enough. With so many things to fit into the day and life, we sacrifice sleep. I’m guilty too, I’m writing this article now, 10:30 at night, with a big three days of training coming up. I should be in bed sleeping. But it’s okay, I’ll nap tomorrow… but I won’t. But that’s another story.

When I was working in the corporate world and training as an age group triathlete, as a hobby (albeit it what I considered a ‘serious hobby’), I used to think I could survive on about five hours of sleep a night. I’d get up and train before work, head to the office, train after work, and then open up the laptop again at night. Often staying up till midnight, only to be getting up at 4:30 or 5:00AM the next day. And I could… survive. But that’s what I was doing, surviving. I wasn’t thriving or excelling in either work or sport, I was just surviving.

It was only when I became a Professional Triathlete that I saw the value and benefit of sleep and being rested – physically and mentally. It’s something that now as an athlete, I wish I’d known or seen the benefits of when I was working in the corporate world and trying to fit everything in. It’s still an odd concept to me. I struggle to take naps, battling with the concept of feeling guilty for doing nothing in the day, rather than considering resting and sleeping now part of my job to allow me then to perform. When I did commit and invest in my sleep, I saw the benefit in my moods, emotions, energy levels and decision making (something that could be key with your family or in your corporate role). As an athlete, the improvement in the quality of my training and my ability to increase the perception of my perceived effort. Yes, I still pushed myself and trained hard, but found I had that little bit extra to give or fight.

Another recent incident also made me see again the value in sleep. In May, I was hit by a car whilst in the bike portion of a race, and as a consequence, suffered a brain bleed. I went from 30 hours a week of training and in peak form, to zero hours a week. I was told to rest and nap several times a day. With not much else to do, and wanting to ensure my brain heeled, I embraced the advice and ensured I napped and removed screens from life. What I noticed, that even though I was going through a pretty crappy time, when your passion and livelihood is taken away (although I was grateful my injuries weren’t worse), because I was actually rested, and getting rest and sleeping, my general mood was good, and energy levels pretty high. It was only as the recovery went on, as I tried to get back to what was normal before the accident, and as the naps slipped, once again, out of my daily routine, that I noticed my mood change again and my emotions become more volatile.

So where am I going with all of this? Well, I appreciate that not everyone can find time to nap in the day – although I do adhere to committing to find even just ten minutes on your lunch break in a quiet office, or your car, or quiet corner of the park, and just sitting or lying and closing your eyes. Even that will help you rest and reset.

Sorry where was I again… where am I going with this?

As said, I’ve had two trigger points in my life that have highlighted the benefits of sleep on my performance (physically and mentally) and also my interaction with those I care about around me. Yet I’ve still always struggled with sleep. Staying up late because I don’t want to go to bed, because I know I’m just going to be awake in a few hours and several times during the night. This in itself creates a stress that makes sleeping not a relaxing experience. (As a side note – how is it always easy to fall and stay asleep on the sofa but not in our beds?)

But knowing the importance of sleep, I’ve always looked for ways to help. It’s therefore exciting when SKINS, a brand I’ve been a loyal fan of for many years (I think back in the late 1990s / early 2000s), and a brand that still accompanies me in the form of recovery leggings on my long haul flights, brings out a new compression sleepwear range! To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The brand is about compression and recovery. The compression sleepwear, (long leggings and long sleeve top), would they feel too tight, too compressive and uncomfortable? Would I feel the benefit? Was I going to overheat in summer?

I can honestly say I was impressed from the start. The leggings and top just felt so comfy on – that comfy feeling when you don’t notice how good it is because they are so comfy – it’s like you don’t really notice or are aware you are wearing it and it’s doing its work to help you recover. After a few nights, I tried to explain what it feels like, and I guess it was like wearing a hug. The fabric is incredibly soft and with no seams on the garments, there is no irritation – it’s just the smooth, well, hug-like feeling. I noticed immediately that my sleep was different and my body felt encompassed in the fabric. It also felt like the garments managed heat too, so I didn’t overheat. I felt more rested in the morning.

Now, I still have a long way to go with my sleep habits, and I’m not saying that SKINS Compression Sleepwear was the magic pill and game changer, but it is definitely a good addition to enabling and helping me recover better so I can get up and go again the next day – trying to be that bit better than yesterday!

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