Athletes work hard to win and shape every part of their lifestyle to get the edge over the competition. This includes various aspects of their life such as their diet, exercise plan, and their sleep routine. Just as athletes need more calories when in training, they also need more sleep.
Whether you’re at the top of your game or in the game for the fun of it, getting the proper amount of sleep is necessary to face the world with your best foot forward.
Getting enough sleep takes commitment, just like training. Most people need about 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night, but most athletes in training are recommended at least an extra hour of sleep per night whether this means regularly going to bed earlier or having an additional daytime nap.
Improved reaction time:
One area of athletic performance that can be affected by not enough sleep is overall reaction time. Reaction time is necessary for many sports, everything from quick movements to catching a ball and even just a single night of sleep deprivation causing fatigue can slow quick reaction times.
Small amounts of sleep lost over time, such as just an hour of sleep a night, creates what researchers call a ‘sleep debt’. An accrual of a substantial sleep debt can lead to a fall of mental performance and accuracy.
A study at Stanford University found that when their male basketball team was asked to sleep for 10 hours a night for around six weeks, their shooting accuracy improved by 9%.
Reduced injury rates:
Sleep allows the body to spend less energy resources on body processes needed while awake, and more energy resources towards helping muscles and other tissues heal and recover.
Research from a study of teenage student-athletes, found that those who slept at least eight hours per night were 68% less likely to injure themselves playing sports than those who slept less than eight hours nightly.
Fewer mental errors:
Sleep loss impairs judgement. Studies have shown motivation, focus, memory, and learning to be impaired by shortened sleep as it inhibits the brain’s ability to perform these mental tasks efficiently and well.
Improved muscle recovery:
Sleep is a critical time for cell regeneration and repair in the body. During non-REM stages of sleep, cell division and regeneration actually becomes more active than during waking hours. Insufficient sleep, on the other hand, hinders muscle recovery.