The modern professional athlete knows that physical conditioning and good nutrition are critical factors to reach peak performance; another important factor is sleep. Sleep was often overlooked but plays an equally important role in the daily life routine of professional athletes.
The scientific research of recent years found that the quality and quantity of sleep obtained by elite athletes can be the difference between winning or losing on game day.
Here are some facts how sleep can influence athletic performance:
Sleep and reaction times:
Sleep deprivation can reduce athletes’ reaction time significantly! A single night without sleep can reduce reaction times by more than 300 %. The newest scientific researches have shown a surprisingly low level of fatigue can impair reaction times as much as being legally drunk. Of course there are differences between being drunk and being fatigued but the effect on the athletes’ reaction times is dramatically and similar.
Sleep and injuries:
A tired athlete is slower to react on the pitch or field. Secondly, fatigue affects athletes’ immune system, making them more prone to illness. Thirdly, shorter sleep periods don’t provide the professional with sufficient time to regenerate cells and repair from the overuse by workouts, games, and daily activities. Over time, game-earned injuries, health issues, and the inability to fully recover can wear on an athlete and contribute to more time spent on the sidelines or with the medical department.
Sleep and a long career:
A healthy and injury free athlete (most of his time) can prolong his career on the highest play level. One recent study on MLB players has shown fatigue can shorten the playing careers of professional athletes. It is a great reminder that sleepiness impairs performance and a proper sleep creates a stable income for a long and healthy sport career.
Sleep and sprint:
Sleep is crucial to all physiological, biochemical, and cognitive body functions. Optimal sleep is beneficial in reaching peak performance in different types of sport like tennis, basketball, soccer or weightlifting.
Sleep and motivation:
Sleep loss impairs judgement. Studies have shown motivation, focus, memory, and learning to be impaired by shortened sleep. Without sleep, the athletes brain struggles to memorise information and absorb new knowledge.
For all athletes, sleep is an important component of maintaining optimum health and performance and a crucial pillar of success. Reaction times and motor function, motivation, focus, stress regulation, muscle recovery, sprint performance, muscle glycogen, glucose metabolism, memory and learning, injury risk, illness rates, unwanted weight gain…. sleep influences all these important points.
Sleep can be the crucial element in winning or losing. It is important that the elite athlete understands the main role of sleep and organises sleep like a training session, like his nutrition or a video analysis.
Have a good rest!
Moderate sleep deprivation produces impairments in cognitive and motor performance equivalent to legally prescribed levels of alcohol intoxication – Williamson A, Feyer A. (2000)
How awake are you? – Hardvard Medical
Sports-related injuries in youth athletes: is overscheduling a risk factor? -Luke A, et al. (2011)
Chronic lack of sleep is associated with increased sports injuries in adolescent athletes – Milewski MD, et al. (2014)
How sleep deprivation decays the mind and body – The Atlantic
Studies link fatigue and sleep to Major League Baseball (MLB) performance and career longevity – Winter C. MD
The effects of sleep extension on the athletic performance of collegiate basketball players – Mah C, et al. (2011)
Ongoing study continues to show that extra sleep improves athletic performance – Mah C, et al. (2008)
The effect of partial sleep deprivation on weight-lifting performance – Reilly T, Piercy M. (1994)
The sleep crisis and the science of slumber – Maclean’s
Declining plate discipline during Major League Baseball season may be the result of fatigue – Kutscher S. MD, et al.