The science of altitude, performance and health

The How to Guide of Sleeping at Altitude

Health & Wellness
Published on
February 1, 2022
The How to Guide of Sleeping at Altitude

Getting used to sleeping at altitude is a simple process that will allow you to make significant performance gains. All you need to do is turn on your system, sleep, and let the altitude do the work.

Read our easy guide to show you how best to acclimatise in the first couple of weeks of using your altitude system, then you can sleep high, and comfortably.

A comfortable night’s sleep

Our systems are quiet and comfortable. We aim to cause an EPO response without any sleep disturbance. Most clients find our altitude systems so comfortable that they spend all year sleeping at altitude. 

While sleeping in an altitude environment we are aiming to decrease the oxygen content enough to cause your body to work harder, which then in turn triggers a response, so you produce more efficient blood cells.   

Heart rate response 

We anticipate that your sleeping heart rate will increase while sleeping anywhere from 5 to 15% while following our acclimatisation plan (if you have a resting heart rate of 50 expect a heart rate response from around 52 Bpm to 57.5 Bpm. 

Blood Oxygen response 

When you start sleeping at altitude using our acclimatisation plan, you will notice that your SPO2 dips slightly for the first two to three nights, and then would decrease to 89-94% while sleeping at altitude. 

When you sleep at sea level your blood oxygen content should have an average of between 95-99.

What altitude to start at and why?

We suggest starting at a moderate altitude of 1500m. You will have minimal increase in heart rate which gives your body the chance to rest, as well as starting to produce more efficient blood cells. 

Week one: make or break

The first 30-40 hours are crucial to the success of your altitude program. We strongly suggest increasing the altitude very slowly and keeping it low for this first week. This will give you enough time to acclimatise. If you increase the altitude too soon, you may have trouble sleeping. The longer you sleep at altitude, the better the gains.  

By the end of the first week, you can gradually increase to 2000m. Although this doesn’t seem like a big step, it is the building block of significant sustained improvement for your physical performance. 

We also recommend you start your altitude block on an easier week of training to be as fresh as you can be in your training cycle. 

Week two

This week start from a moderate altitude of 2000m and increase the altitude to 2400m by the end of the week. This is a great opportunity to establish routine and to check in with your body’s reaction to the altitude. This can be done by using wearables such as Garmin or Apple watches. Wearables are great for monitoring your heart rate. Wearables will also measure your blood oxygen content (which is great but can be fairly inaccurate so it’s best to interpret it as an approximate rather than a scientific tool). 

The conclusion...

...is that altitude training of endurance athletes will result in an increase in VO2max of more than half the magnitude of the increase in Hbmass.

The correlation between changes in Hbmass and V02 max in a group of 145 elite endurance athletes (94 male and 51 female) undertaking altitude training, who were part of LHTL (live high / train low) and LHTH (live high / train high) altitude study, showed increases in Hbmass and VO2max by 3%. 

The relationship was that for every 1% change in Hbmass would result in a 0.6–0.7% change in VO2 max. 

So if you increase your Hbmass by 5% (a study conducted at 2450m) you can calculate the increase in VO2 max on the low side of 5*.6= 3% to an increase in VO2 or on the high side of 5*.7=3.5%.

Article coming soon!

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