For fans and athletes alike, fall means gearing up for a new season of sports activities. While plenty of attention goes into developing skills and talent, other important components that affect an athlete’s performance can be overlooked. Especially considering the demands of an athlete’s training and game schedule, getting adequate sleep is often an afterthought.
However, a lack of sleep can significantly affect athletes’ performance both on and off the field.
Sleep quality, efficiency and duration all may decrease just before competition, limiting opportunities for athletes to get the optimal quality and quantity of sleep their bodies need due to intense practice and game schedules, according to research published in “Sports Medicine.”
The same research found sleep can affect several aspects of an athlete’s performance. Skills that require endurance tend to be more affected by sleep deprivation than short-term, high-power activities. Running speed and free throw accuracy improve with more sleep, for example. There is also evidence that getting inadequate sleep increases the risk of injury as sleep deprivation can cause low energy and problems with focus during the game. It may also negatively affect split-second decision-making.
Less sleep also means fewer opportunities for natural secretion of the growth hormones that occur in deep sleep and aide restoration, physical performance and a healthy metabolism.
Athletes can maximize their performance, recovery and overall health with these tips from Mattress Firm’s sleep health expert, Dr. Sujay Kansagra:
- Ensure you are getting between 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Athletes may need additional sleep due to strenuous daytime activity.
- Keep your wake time and bedtime similar, regardless of your training schedule. Don’t wake up early to practice one day and sleep in the next. Try to keep it consistent.
- If you have trouble falling asleep, avoid workouts late in the evening just before bed.
- For competitive sports teams that travel across time zones, it’s important to try to adjust your circadian rhythm based on the time you will be playing in the new time zone. The goal is to time the game to when circadian rhythm and alertness are at their peaks, in the late morning and late afternoon or evening.
- As the body works to repair itself during sleep, creating muscle tissue and releasing important hormones, sleeping on the proper mattress can provide support that aids in reducing aches and pains. If you need help selecting the right mattress, the experts at a retailer like Mattress Firm have a variety of sizes, options and accessories available that won’t break the bank.