Sleep Like A World Sports Champion
Hours spent in the weight room, interval training, speed training, and a well-balanced diet all affect athletic performance. But, there’s one common factor that’s often forgotten – sleep. When you consider the strain that an athlete’s body undergoes during a competition, it should come as no surprise that adequate rest is necessary for peak performance. The Sports Techie community blog encourages everyone to reflect on your sleep habits, especially if you are an amateur, elite or professional athlete. Optimizing sleep is the name of game.
Sleep Enhances Athletic Performance
A study published in Sleep investigated the effects of extended sleep time on college basketball players. While the average adult needs seven to eight hours of sleep, for this study, participants were required to spend ten hours in bed each night. For five to seven weeks, participants extended the amount of time they slept while reporting their levels of daytime sleepiness, reaction times, and mood. Shooting accuracy, sprint times, and free-throw percentages all improved with the increase in sleep. Participants also reported feeling less fatigued and experiencing improved mental well-being during practices and games.
Adequate sleep allows neurons in the brain to fire at full speed enhancing reaction times. It also gives the body time to fully recover from workouts and daily stressors while improving mental and emotional health. When you’re tired, the emotional center of the brain becomes more sensitive to negative stimuli while the reasoning center becomes less active. Balance can be maintained between these two parts of the brain with a full night’s rest, providing mental clarity and improved mood. Gaining a competitive edge may be more dependent on sleep than we’ve ever thought.
A study published in the Journal of Pediatric Orthopedics surveyed teen athletes and found that those who got less than eight hours of sleep were 1.7 times more likely to have an injury. Coordination, concentration, and strength all come into play when preventing injury and all those skills need sleep, especially if you have a heavy workout and running schedule.
If the body hasn’t had enough time to repair muscle, tendon, or ligament damage, it’s already prepped for problems before the workout has even begun. If you consider a slowdown in reaction times and decision-making skills, a moment’s hesitation can mean the difference between making a layup and spraining an ankle.
Getting Better (and More) Sleep
To get better sleep, a rough estimate of how many hours you’re getting is a good starting point. A fitness tracker that monitors sleep can give you an idea. From there, you can work on building healthy sleep habits. Keep in mind that if after working to develop good sleep habits, you still get less than seven hours of sleep, you may need to consult a physician. Excessive snoring, restless legs, or waking tired after lying in bed for a full eight hours may indicate a sleep disorder.
However, for most people better sleep is a matter of developing sleep-promoting habits, such as:
A Consistent Bedtime: The body uses regular 24-hour biological and physiological cycles to time your sleep-wake cycle. A consistent bedtime allows your body to acclimate to your sleep schedule and release sleep hormones at the correct time.
Turn Off Screens: High-efficiency light bulbs and electronic devices like televisions and laptops can give off a bright blue light that suppresses sleep hormones. Replace your high-efficiency bulbs with incandescent bulbs, especially in the bedroom, and shutdown screens at least two to three hours before bed to prevent a delay in the onset of sleep.
Avoid Stimulants: Stimulants like caffeine block sleep hormones. Avoid coffee, tea, or energy drinks at least four hours before bed to get them out of your system.
Tuck Sleep is a community devoted to improving sleep hygiene, health and wellness through the creation and dissemination of comprehensive, unbiased, free web-based resources. Tuck has been featured on NPR, Lifehacker, Radiolab and is referenced by many colleges/universities and sleep organizations across the web.
Sports Techie, I have to admit, getting 7 or 8 hours of sleep feels like a luxury even though I understand how important that is for adults and kids alike. Whenever I sleep the recommended amount, I indeed feel truly rested. The more I exercise, the better sleep is. The better I eat, the better sleep is. I like to sleep in a cooler environment. When you think about it, a good sleep has so many factors to it.
My best sleep happens when my son spends the night. He goes to bed anywhere from 8:30ish to 9:00 something now that it’s summer break from school. He sleeps through the night and gets about 8 or 9 hours of sleep most nights, maybe even 10 if we climb Stone Mountain during the heat of the Georgia summer day. Kids on the autism spectrum can have severe to light sleeping issues. Fortunately, Kellan loves to run around and as a result has been a good sleeper. I hope it stays that way.
Teams now factor is player sleep when they design custom-made airplane jets for travel to away games, especially international games and matches. Superstar athletes like LeBron James, Tom Brady, Serena Williams and even Justify, the Triple Crown winning horse, all use sleep as a competitive edge and so can you.
Everyone has a their own unique finger print, retina scan, and sleep patterns.
Optimize your sleep and win.
See ya later sportstechie in Seattle, Atlanta and around the world!
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