Svexa recruits PhD candidate to help unlock the power of sleep and nutrition for athlete performance

Svexa has, together with the Swedish School of Sport and Health Science, the Swedish orienteering federation, and sports nutrition company Maurten, initiated a unique research project aimed at understanding how sleep and nutrition interact with training adaptations in elite athletes. This project is also part of a national effort under the Swedish Sports Confederation to enhance sports performances. Lina Nilsson was recently recruited to the project as svexa’s first in-house PhD-candidate in the lab of svexa’s CSO Filip Larsen. With a master’s degree in Sports Science and already working closely with elite athletes in the national team in orienteering, Nilsson is the perfect person for the job.

“I am excited to get involved in this project. Studies in close collaboration with elite athletes are rare, and when they exist, usually involve a single outcome. In this study, we use multiple data streams including sleep parameters, blood glucose, and both physiological and psychological assessment tools. It will be a rich source of knowledge that can be directly applicable to both athletes and the general population wanting to improve their health” - Lina Nilsson

Throughout her PhD project, Lina will be working both in the academic laboratory setting with data collection and analytics, but also on the field travelling with the national teams to training camps. An important part of her activities will be in direct contact with the athletes implementing the findings from her work. Team captain in the multiple 2021 world champion Sweden Orienteering national team,

Sweden's Orienteering 2021 World Champions

Håkan Carlsson, General Manager and Captain of the Swedish National Team states: “The technological progress in sport science is exploding right now and everyone struggles to keep up with the latest development in everything from sleep tracking to glucose monitors to development of new running shoes. We have been working with svexa for several years now, and getting this PhD project going with Lina Nilsson and the svexa team is a way of deepening the collaboration and keeping the national team at the international forefront of this development.”

So far, 20 world-class endurance athletes have been recruited to the study and they will be kept under close surveillance for 12 months. Throughout the study, the athletes will wear Ōura rings to monitor sleep patterns, continuous glucose monitors from Supersapiens that tracks blood sugar levels every minute, while training and competitions are closely monitored with GPS tracking and heart rate-monitors and svexa’s Athlete Advisor is used daily to track subjective ratings of well-being.

As Lina says -“I will devote the first two years of my PhD specifically to this project. We will get a truly unique data set and can look for individual patterns in for example sleep cycles, mood changes or glucose levels that could indicate if someone isn’t recovering as they should or if there is a margin to increase the training even more”.

Svexa’s CSO Filip Larsen adds “This project is perfectly in line with our long-term strategy of being a science-driven company that continuously develop new algorithms and insights for performance optimization for both elite and recreational athletes. It is complex and difficult to deliver cutting-edge research that also has immediate real-world implication, but it is worth the work because it very rewarding to see the athletes’ improvements.”

In addiiton to his role as svexa's Chief Science Officer, Dr FIlip Larssen is Associate Professor, Swedish School of Sports & Health Sciences, and a Physiologist for Swedish National Orienteering Team.