The Importance of Sleep

The Importance Of Sleep To Athletic Performance

Most people need about 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. If you’re an athlete in training, you may need more.

Athletes in training should sleep about an hour extra. You can go to sleep earlier, or take an afternoon nap, says Jim Thornton, president of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association.

How Sleep Affects Athletic Performance

Not getting enough sleep doesn’t only make you tired the next day, it also has a big impact on what’s happening inside your body.

Sleep is the time when your body repairs itself, if we don’t get enough sleep, we don’t perform well. It also improves your health and improves weight loss.

Studies have found clear evidence that increasing sleep has real benefits for athletes. For example one researcher studied the Stanford University basketball team for several months. Players added an average of almost 2 hours of sleep a night. The results?

  • Players increased their speed by 5%.
  • Their free throws were 9% more accurate.
  • They had faster reflexes and felt happier.

Note : Other studies have shown similar benefits for football players and other athletes.

4 Sleep Tips For Athletes

Getting enough sleep takes commitment, just like training. A lot of things can get in the way. Aim to make these four fixes part of your routine.

  • Get on a regular schedule. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day.
  • When you travel, give yourself time to get used to your new setting. If you’re traveling for an athletic competition, it’s a good idea to get there a few days early — or even weeks — That way, your body can adjust and you have time to get on a normal sleep schedule.
  • Avoid sleep medication. “Unless a doctor has prescribed it, don’t take any sleep medications,” Also Over-the-counter sleep aids are likely to disturb the quality of your sleep and your performance the next day. Relying on natural relaxation techniques before bed — such as deep breathing — is a better approach, he says.
  • Reduce alcohol and caffeine. Two or three days before a competition, start cutting back on caffeine and alcohol. You want to avoid anything that could disrupt your sleep.


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