Most coaches emphasize the importance of training and maintaining a good diet to their athletes. They, however, overlook the relevance of enough sleep for them. In most cases, the schedule of an athlete involves staying up late practicing for competitions and waking up early for morning runs.
There is also the stress that comes from the pressure of being on top of your game. All of this could affect the quality of your sleep. Exercise breaks down the muscles in the body and drains some electrolytes and essential fluids. You, therefore, need enough time to sleep to help your body recover fast from intense practice.
A pro athlete understands that quality sleep is more than merely staying in bed for 8 hours. You can perfect the art of sleeping by implementing certain techniques to boost athletic performance. Before we discuss them, let us focus on how sleep can increase your performance. Enjoy!
How does sleep impact on an athlete’s performance?
The line between winning and losing in sports is thin as it depends on your preparations. The quality of sleep impacts on how you perform at your game. Here are a few merits.
Sleep boosts your reaction time
Every second in a game is crucial to an athlete. Experts reveal that sleep deprivation and reduced reaction time go hand in hand. If you don’t get enough sleep, it makes your body feel fatigued during the day, thus impairing your reaction. You should, therefore, rest for more hours than any other person so that you can boost your reaction time to increase the odds of winning.
It boosts your health and reduces injuries
Athletes who sleep for few hours are more prone to injuries compared to those who sleep for extended periods at night. The lack of enough sleep causes fatigue which not only makes you slow to react but also jeopardizes your immune system. This is what makes a lot of players fall ill especially when they travel to play away from home.
Short sleep periods prevent the body from the regeneration of cells after intense workouts. If you have enough rest, you allow your body to repair damaged cells so that you don’t waste time recovering. It also minimizes the risks of getting injured while playing. Sleep decreases the chemicals that are linked to stress and raises the growth hormone to boost your recovery rate.
Sleep also prolongs your career
You can remain in the game for long as long as you are getting enough sleep and working hard. Sleep curbs fatigue which can shorten the career of an athlete. If you have good quality sleep during the night, it improves your focus so that you can give your best at the game and continue performing well for years.
Good sleep increase accuracy
It improves cognitive function and restores the biochemical and physiological processes. It helps you become accurate in your game and increases the sprint time. If you are a basketball player, you can improve how you shoot for you to make more scores from every round. Swimmers, tennis players and weightlifters can also benefit from sleep extension.
It minimizes mental errors
The lack of adequate sleep is known to impair one’s judgment. It makes your brain struggle to take in new knowledge and consolidate memory. This translates to poor learning, lack of focus and motivation as well as reduced memory.
Sleep loss affects the brain’s frontal lobe which helps you make sound decisions while playing. Enough sleep can minimize such mental errors and give you enhanced focus. You can make sound decisions fast and improve your performance.
How can you get all these benefits?
We mentioned that sleep for an athlete goes beyond lying in bed for hours. For you to gain all the above, you should use strategies to boost the quality of your sleep. They include the following
Conduct a pre-sleep routine
Athletes are familiar with routines since they are the secret to achieving results. Apart from your daytime routine, you also need a pre-sleep schedule that helps your body establish a pattern naturally to help you sleep well.
Maintaining the same periods of sleep every day helps your body work according to your internal body clock. You should also extend your sleep for at least one hour beyond the recommended time. This helps you spend more time in the REM phase to replenish the immune cells as well as restore body organs and tissues.
Improve your sleep environment
A luxurious sleep environment gives you something to long for after a tiresome day of practice. Make it comfortable so that you prepare your body to relax for long. Make use of comfy pillows and cotton sheets that let you sleep well.
Every athlete should also invest in a good quality mattress since they should sleep for more hours than any other individual. An ideal mattress from Bear Mattress can help you relieve pressure points in the body. Choose one that supports your weight effortlessly to boost the circulation of blood so that you can enjoy the benefits of good sleep.
Just as you prepare for your game, you should also do some preparations before getting into bed. You can start with a sleep ritual to help you relax such as conducting meditation or yoga. Listen to some soothing music before sleeping if you are tense about the outcome of your next game.
Do you like sleeping naked or in pajamas? Some pajamas have been scientifically proven to boost the quality of your sleep and help you recover fast from intense practice. Look for athlete recovery sleepwear from online shops. They are designed to promote good sleep, control cell metabolism and also reduce inflammation.
Assess your sleep
As you modify your sleep, you should assess if the changes are making any difference in your performance. Make use of the wearable technology which helps athletes optimize their sleep. The technology makes it easy for you to assess how much sleep you get every night compared to how you feel in the morning. You can also keep track of your soreness level using the same mechanism.Read more about negative effects of sleep deprivation in this guide.