Time to wake up and smell the sleep science
CAPE TOWN - Every day - like most things - Mixed Martial Arts evolves. This could be from a fighting, coaching, marketing or a dieting perspective.
In comparison to many other sports, the professional element of the sport is still in its early stages, leaving room for many to plant a peg in the ground to help grow the sport.
And that is what Sleep Coach/Sleep Specialist, Barry Bridges aims to do.
Barry has embarked on a journey to apply his Sport Science studies and sleep science research to the MMA/combat sport environment, one of the fastest growing sports in the world.
The Cape Town-based Bridges created a Sleep Fit Program to assist Africa’s top MMA athletes including Extreme Fighting Championship champion, Amanda Lino, Ultimate Fighting Championship star Don Madge, former EFC star and renowned South African boxer, Boyd Allen with sleep and recovery work.
According to his message on the BigAl Podcast, he too has plans to assist UFC athlete and former EFC double champion, Dalcha Lungiambula with his recovery and rest.
“Sleep science has been around for a long time, but has recently received interest worldwide ... and even more now during Covid-19. It is a hot topic trending on Google and you will find that sleep health is needed more than nutrition and exercise,” says the man who has completed two certifications focusing on sleep, mindset and recovery outside of his Sport Science qualification.
“Sleep science itself focuses on the science, coaching, application, research and data analysis when working with clients and athletes,” says Barry who has worked as a strength and fitness trainer in the professional soccer arena, as well as on the Sunshine Tour (golf).
“I spoke to a few strength and conditioning coaches and found that so many MMA athletes were struggling with sleep either before fight camps or just in general.
“I started to venture out in lockdown and decided to share my expertise in sleep coaching for combat athletes worldwide. I made contact with (renowned strength and conditioning coach) Phil Daru via Twitter. I've been working with his world-renowned boxers, Maureen Shea (2x world champion) and Sullivan Barrera.
“I realised that there is a big need for sleep coaching and recovery in combat athletes because of the knocks they take to the head. Research has shown any concussions to the head will result in sleep loss and impact their overall recovery. The brain controls our sleep habits.”
It is no secret that many MMA athletes train late at night, especially in South Africa where some athletes still work during the day to pay the bills before training at night.
And this is where Barry aligns his programs with athletes by first analysing their chrono type and circadian rhythm before giving them a sleep environment and sleep science questionnaires.
“It’s about understanding the athletes’ daily schedule, their personal chronotype, meal timing and their evening routines. My goal as a sleep coach with combat athletes is to make sure they peak during their daily schedules making sure they are doing all the right things in that framework which will allow them to enter sleep drive at night allowing the brain to switch off and hit full recovery mode and then repeat the same process every day.”
“I use all the latest sleep science applications and recovery tools which are backed up by sleep science literature. Combat athletes will go through various sleep assessments, coach calls, sleep programs, sleep diaries and any other tools I feel they need to use,” he says.
A person's chronotype is the propensity for the individual to sleep at a particular time during a 24-hour period.
In layman's terms, The Chronotype test allows Barry to establish whether the athlete is a “morning or night” person, hence why Barry’s study will establish if it's conducive for an athlete to be training intricate fight drills in the morning when they’re a night/evening person.
“Your performance and your mood will determine how you adapt to certain things. The problem with evening-type athletes is, when they start morning shift, e.g. skill work, they’re mostly still in a melatonin phase which is not conducive as melatonin is a hormone released to help one sleep.”
Meaning that a night person may be counterproductive early in the morning in comparison to the other chronotype who is more productive in the AM.
Right now Barry is also involved in ESports as a wellness coach for the National Federation MSSA (Mind Sport South Africa) which sees him assist all the Proteas (gamers) perform to their highest level when they compete at the World Champ.”
For those who don’t know, eSports is one of the hottest trends the world around. It is a form of sport competition using video games. Esports often takes the form of organized, multiplayer video game competitions, particularly between professional players, individually or as teams. It is huge on a global scale and has picked up more notoriety since the beginning of lockdown.
For more details on Barry Bridges, or if you would like to get in contact with him for a consultation, you can contact him on 083 651 4170 Connect with him on Twitter: @BarrysleepCoach, barry_bridges12 (Instagram) and/or Barry Bridges (Linkedin).