The Power of Sleep - In conversation with Carys Webster

Carys Webster - elite CrossFit athlete

Carys Webster started CrossFit in 2015, having never picked up a barbell before. She is currently ranked 25th in Europe and is training for the CrossFit Games semi-finals in June. We sat down to learn about her training schedule and how she approaches sleep.

Carys is an elite CrossFit athlete, part time doctor in an intensive care unit and is studying for a Masters in Sports and Exercise Medicine. Her typical week consists of two 13-hour shifts at the hospital and five days of double training sessions with masters work squeezed in between.

A typical day for Carys

Carys gets up at 6.30-7am most days. Starts with a big bowl of porridge, topped with dried fruit, and a coffee. Then she’s in the gym at 8am for her first training session. This usually lasts till 10.30-11am. Then she heads home to have lunch and work on her masters, before returning to the gym around 2pm. Her second training session lasts till 4-5pm. The evening is spent at home, with her fiance - they prioritise spending time together in the evening and where possible try to put their phones away.

At the end of each training day she writes in her training log - reflecting on what went well, what she learnt, what she’s proud of, and what she can work on. “This is important as even when I’ve had a bad day, there’s always a positive.”

How she approaches sleep as an elite athlete

“When you sleep is when you release growth hormone, especially the first few hours. Without that your body isn’t making adaptations to the training you’ve done that day. If you aren’t getting good sleep then there’s no point training.” 

Sleep and nutrition are two of the most important things to aid her recovery.  She aims for 8-hours sleep a night. To help her ‘wind down’ from the day she gets into bed around 9pm, will read a book and try to be asleep by 10pm. 

Committing to going to bed really early every day has made a massive difference and helped her get those eight hours. “Prioritising my sleep routine has made a huge difference.” 

You can follow Carys’s journey here.