“If you told an athlete you had a treatment that would reduce the chemicals associated with stress, that would naturally increase human growth hormone, that enhances recovery rate, that improves performance, they would all do it. Sleep does all of those things.”
— Casey Smith, Head Athletic Trainer, Dallas Mavericks
52% of elite athletes report having issues sleeping, in particular during the season when they need to be operating at their peak.
A lack of sleep reduces athletic performance, but increased quality sleep has also been shown to have a significant impact on improving performance.
There is lots of research, especially in the last decade, that shows the effects of sleep on all aspects of athletic performance.
Good quality sleep:
- Increases your reaction time. Just one sleepless night can reduce reaction times by up to 300%.
- Increases jump power.
- Improves decision making. Sleep deprivation has the same impact on your decision making as being intoxicated. Studies have shown reduced moral reasoning and inhibitions, and increased risky behaviour.
- Improves memory.
- Improves and quickens recovery from injuries and illnesses. Studies have shown that in physically demanding jobs, poor sleep is one of the strongest predictors of injuries, while good sleep is the key to helping your body recover quickly.
- Increases cardiovascular fitness and the ability to build muscle.
- Improves skills building and learning. During sleep your brain consolidates memories, helping you to lock away new info.
- Increases exercise capacity - which is a fancy way of saying you don’t run out of steam as quickly.
While all the normal sleep tips apply, for athletes the sleep routine needs to have the same weighty importance as diet and training. For elite athletes, studies have shown that increased sleep time of 9 hours has led to better performance and recovery, and that sleep should be increased before big comps, travel or when recovering from injury.
We can’t really overemphasise how important sleep is for athletic performance. It determines how fast you react, how powerfully you launch, how quickly and well you make decisions, how well you remember the playbook, the number of mistakes you will make, whether you learn from those mistakes, and how quickly you recover from those mistakes if they lead to injury. For many athletes, your life’s dream could depend on your sleep. So, hit the pillow and awaken your best every day!
If poor sleep is keeping you from performing at your peak, book a sleep coaching session with our dream team to get the extra juice your game needs.