Sleep Science for Recovery with Dr Amy Bender

Dr Amy Bender is a sleep scientist on a mission to promote sleep for well-being & better performance. She is the perfect guest to have on the podcast to discuss it’s importance for your performance & recovery. We discuss: Link between sleep and injury What you need to know about the different sleep stages Signs & symptoms of poor sleep habits Importance of both sleep quality and quantity  Common sleeping disorders Can I sleep too much? Practical tips for sleep hygiene Right sleep position and pillow Here are the links for: Amy’s twitter account Amy’s insta account Here is a link for the sleep questionnaire: Click here to learn more about the PHT video course & to receive your 50% discount If you would like to learn more about having Brodie on your rehab team go to  Or book a free 20-min physio chat here

Understanding the Role of Sleep Science in Proximal Hamstring Tendinopathy


In this episode of our podcast dedicated to helping you overcome proximal hamstring tendinopathy, we dive into a different angle of recovery – the impact of sleep. Hosted by Brodie Sharp, an online physiotherapist and recreational athlete, this podcast aims to provide valuable insights into this condition, its evidence-based treatments, and dispel common misconceptions. Today’s episode features a special guest, Dr. Amy Bender, a sleep scientist with a mission to promote sleep for well-being and better performance.

Sleep, Cortisol, and Pain Amplification

Dr. Amy Bender opens the discussion by shedding light on the relationship between sleep, cortisol, and pain. It’s no secret that sleep plays a vital role in our overall health, but what’s intriguing is how sleep quality can affect pain levels. As Dr. Bender explains, a good night’s sleep can reduce pain levels, enabling individuals to tolerate more physical activity and rehabilitation exercises. This, in turn, leads to better outcomes and faster recovery.

Meet Dr. Amy Bender

Before delving into the nuances of sleep science, it’s essential to get to know our expert guest. Dr. Amy Bender, a former athlete herself, transitioned into the world of sleep science. Her passion for both sports and sleep led her on a remarkable career path, including work with Olympic athletes. Her expertise and dedication make her the perfect guest to discuss the impact of sleep on recovery and well-being.

The Stages of Sleep

Dr. Bender walks us through the stages of sleep, emphasizing that sleep quality is as crucial as sleep quantity. Understanding these stages is vital for athletes aiming to optimize their recovery. The sleep stages include:

1. Non-REM Sleep

  • Stage 1: The lightest stage, accounting for about 5% of the night.
  • Stage 2: A prevalent stage, making up 50% of sleep time.
  • Stage 3: The deepest stage, comprising 20% of sleep time, ideal for tissue repair and growth hormone release.

2. REM Sleep (Rapid Eye Movement)

  • Occurs during dreaming.
  • Takes up about 25% of sleep time.
  • Active dreaming and memory consolidation.

Signs of Poor Sleep Habits

Dr. Bender highlights indicators of poor sleep quality, helping individuals assess their own sleep patterns:

  • Falling asleep in less than 30 minutes.
  • Waking up no more than once during the night.
  • Quickly returning to sleep within about 20 minutes during nighttime awakenings.
  • Sleeping for about 85% of the time spent in bed.

The Accuracy of Sleep Monitoring Devices

We often rely on sleep tracking devices to assess our sleep patterns. Dr. Bender advises that these devices are improving in accuracy, especially those using various measurements like heart rate variability, temperature, and light exposure. These devices offer valuable insights into sleep quality and efficiency.

Falling Asleep Quickly: Good or Bad?

Do you fall asleep rapidly and take pride in it? Dr. Bender explains that falling asleep too quickly can be a sign of sleep deprivation, especially if it occurs in less than five minutes. However, falling asleep within 10 to 30 minutes is considered normal.

Common Sleep Disorders

Dr. Bender touches on common sleep disorders, emphasizing that they are less prevalent in the running community compared to other athletes. However, it’s essential to recognize the signs of sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, which includes loud snoring and interrupted breathing during sleep.

The Impact of Poor Sleep on Injury Risk

For athletes, poor sleep can increase the risk of injuries. Dr. Bender discusses research findings, including studies in adolescents and military personnel. While the relationship between sleep and injury risk is complex, banking sleep before important competitions can help mitigate the impact of poor sleep the night before.

Tips for Staying Asleep

In response to a listener’s question, Dr. Bender shares valuable tips for staying asleep. If you wake up in the middle of the night and struggle to return to sleep, consider trying the “4-7-8” breathing technique. This technique involves inhaling for four seconds, holding for seven seconds, and exhaling for eight seconds. It activates the parasympathetic nervous system and can help calm your mind.


Sleep science is a vital component of recovery, particularly for individuals dealing with proximal hamstring tendinopathy. Dr. Amy Bender’s insights shed light on the intricate relationship between sleep, injury risk, and overall well-being. By understanding the stages of sleep, recognizing signs of poor sleep quality, and implementing strategies to optimize sleep, individuals can improve their recovery and performance, ensuring a smoother journey towards overcoming this condition.