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Sleep and Athletic Performance

Most of us are acutely aware that sleep affects all aspects of our lives. Recent research sheds a brighter light on the connection between sleep and athletic performance, highlighting the need for athletes to make rest a priority. Let’s take a closer look at the impact of sleep for athletes, and how getting more sack […]

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Most of us are acutely aware that sleep affects all aspects of our lives. Recent research sheds a brighter light on the connection between sleep and athletic performance, highlighting the need for athletes to make rest a priority. Let’s take a closer look at the impact of sleep for athletes, and how getting more sack time can help you stay on top of your game.

Crucial Repairs Take Place when You’re Sleeping

Whatever your sport, it’s likely that you’re becoming stronger with every practice and competition. Since muscle growth involves tiny tears in the tissue followed by repairs that result in the addition of muscle cells, the rest and recovery phase is as important as the actual activity itself. Translation? Sleep and athletic performance go hand in hand, and time spent asleep is just as important as time spent working out. 

Since fatigue has an adverse impact on your immune system, sleep for athletes is essential to good health. Essentially, not getting enough sleep means that you’re at a higher risk for catching common bugs such as cold and flu whenever they’re making the rounds. When your immune system suffers, so do your stats and stop snoring aids .

Appropriate Sleep Enhances Endurance

During the deepest stage of sleep, your body is hard at work regulating levels of a stress hormone called cortisol. Without enough sleep, elevated cortisol levels have a negative impact on the body’s ability to utilize glucose properly, and inadequate sleep leads to higher stress levels. It’s a harmful cycle with damaging effects on the cardiovascular system and more.

How sleep affects sports performance for stressed-out athletes comes down to endurance. thebaseballstop.com explains: “As there is a direct link between cortisol regulation and the metabolization and synthesis of glucose for appropriate use as fuel, restful sleep is crucial for athletes who rely on endurance throughout races and other events or sports that require above-average stamina.”

Those who are in this position or suffer from sleep disorders should follow advice on how to create the perfect sleep setting and may benefit from approved supplements too.

Sleep Improves Performance Overall

Sure, you can take pre-workouts and you can focus on getting the best nutrition possible, but sleep is among the best performance boosters of all.

·         A study that tracked basketball players on Stanford University’s team found that on average, those who enjoy two extra hours of sleep per night enjoyed a five percent increase in speed and a nine percent improvement inaccuracy. Whether your sport is basketball, baseball, football, or something else entirely, focusing on sleep will help you enjoy better reflexes and faster reaction times. 

·         Athletes who sleep at least nine hours per night have more energy when it counts. If you’re looking for an easy way to boost cardio intensity for track, cycling, or even competitive weight lifting, make it a priority to sleep well.

·        If you’re curious about the connection between sleep and athletic performance when it comes to coordination – it greatly improves when regular deep sleep is part of the big picture. Your brain consolidates memories while you’re asleep, and according to the National Sleep Foundation, REM sleep is essential for brain and body alike. Many of your memories are formed while you’re sound asleep, including cell memory that contributes to the motor skills you use during your sport. Whether that’s skiing, snowboarding, tennis, or martial arts, your ability to enjoy plenty of deep sleep has a direct link to your ability to replicate essential movements that add up to a stellar performance. 

Getting Enough Sleep Can Enhance Your Athletic Career

A pair of studies published in the American Academy of Sleep Medicine provides incredible insight into the long-term effects of sleep and athletic performance. Following 80 major league baseball players over the span of three seasons, researchers discovered that those who slept better were far more likely to continue their careers than those who reported poor sleep quality. Those who reported feeling sleepy had moreover 40% less longevity than their better-rested counterparts.

Adequate Sleep Can Reduce Injury Proneness

We know that drivers who are fatigued have increased reaction time and far lower safety ratings than those who are well-rested. The same wisdom applies to how sleep affects sports performance or athletes. 

When you’re fatigued, you take longer to respond to potential hazards and this means that you’re more injury-prone. A study published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine revealed that adolescents who participated in sports after sleeping less than 8 hours the night before had almost twice the likelihood of sustaining injuries as did those who slept for a full 8 hours.

Sleep and Athletic Performance: How Athletes Can Improve Sleep

There are a few ways to ensure that you’re getting the best sleep possible. First, create a realistic schedule that you can stick with for the long haul. Consistency is vital to creating a sleep schedule and once you do, you’ll find that it’s easier to fall asleep and you’ll find that you wake up feeling refreshed.

·         Comfort is essential. The sleep experts at Bedroom Critic state that you must sleep on the right mattress for your size, body type, and sleeping position and you’ll enjoy more of the deep, restful sleep that your body needs for repair.

·         If you sleep well at night, power naps lasting no longer than about 30 minutes can give you a powerful energy boost. Longer naps can leave you feeling sluggish and make it tough to fall asleep at night which is detrimental. Sleep for athletes is the main priority, so setting an alarm can help prevent naps from going into overtime.

·         Cut back on caffeine and alcohol since both can adversely affect sound sleep for athletes. Afternoon coffee, caffeine-laden pre-workouts, and energy drinks can keep you awake past your chosen bedtime. Meanwhile, alcohol can wake you up in the middle of the night. Alcohol is a double-edged sword since drinking too much will leave you hungover and unable to perform well the following day – plus it’s a source of empty calories.

·         When traveling, give yourself time to adjust to different time zones or at least adjust your sleeping window so that you’ll be able to maintain the schedule. Jet lag makes it difficult for your body and brain to perform at their best.

·         Avoid sleep medications including over-the-counter sleep aids that might leave you feeling groggy the next day. Meditation, deep breathing, white noise, and other natural relaxation techniques are preferable and can improve sleep for athletes.

How Much Sleep do Athletes Need?

There’s no doubt that the link between sleep and athletic performance is prominent, but how much sleep do athletes need? Well, most adults require an average of seven to nine hours of nightly sleep for good health and proper mental functioning. 

But sleep for athletes is even more important. As an athlete who places heavy demands on muscles, joints, tendons, and nerves, you need even more rest than the average person. Aim for at least ten hours of sleep per night if you’re serious about improving your performance. As to how much sleep should a teenage athlete get – those between 14 and 17 should also get between 8.5 -10 hours.

LeBron James and Roger Federer are famous for sleeping 12 hours per day, while Maria Sharapova, Steve Nash, and Venus Williams typically enjoy ten hours of sleep per night. Sleep for athletes is crucial for success, so join them and you’ll be in good company. 

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