There are books upon books that give insights into how to achieve optimum performance when you are an aspiring and, indeed, and existing athlete. But, for years, the topic of how sleep can truly be one of the biggest benefits was lacking any substance.
Sleep, in relation to athletic performance and recovery, is, fortunately, well documented now, with coaches the world overall dipping into the science behind sleep, and just what they can utilise in terms of sleep and its potential with their players.
Here we have just six of the best reasons to get better-quality sleep:
Performance, both in the mental and physical terms become instantly relished for athletes. From a player’s reaction time to accuracy, decision-making and recovery; sleep quality and quantity have the ability to take athletes to the next level.
Sleep can make athletes perform better by becoming more intelligent, stronger, quicker, and increase agility.
Experts have revealed through studies that sleep has positive connotations when it comes to reaction time. In fact, research has indicated that if an athlete isn’t getting the required amount of sleep, their reaction time can be tripled!
Obviously, this is not something that any sports person wants to deal with, which is even more reason to make sure that sleep is a solid presence so that reactions aren’t affected.
Accuracy encompasses three major facets; physical, motor and cognitive. If an athlete isn’t obtaining enough sleep; there is only so long that any one person can go with low-quality sleep before ill-effects set in, before ability is compromised.
Reduced accuracy due to insufficient sleep is the equivalent to that of being intoxicated with alcohol. This is how effectual it can be if athletes don’t sleep enough; it’s the same as being drunk when accuracy is considered.
Not only accuracy, but a range of other motor and cognitive functions are compromised as well.
Cognitive process (decision making)
Having the capability to fully assess risks, which involves making quick, multifaceted decisions is all part of being a top-performing athlete. What’s more, having the skill to achieve this makes the difference between a successful athlete and one who falls short.
There have been a host of studies that highlight the adverse effects of poor sleep on decision-making and judgement. A lack of sleep opens the door to a potential increase in poor decision-making, and greater risk-taking, even though athletes will be aware of the dangers.
The brain doesn’t completely shut off when humans sleep. Through all stages of sleep, it’s necessary to process and correctly assign memory to the right areas of the brain to secure its presence, which helps with developing learning.
Having superior cognitive function often sets athletes of the highest level apart from the rest. In fact, studies have shown that athlete’s brains are relentlessly making new neural connections, combining information, and depending on drawing memory from previous experiences to make those instant decisions in high-pressure situations.
Throw bad sleep into the equation though, and these vital components in the cognitive process are at risk. Moreover, it can damage full memory function, and disrupt the capacity to learn efficiently, as well as hinder recall and storage too.
Lastly, we come to recovery. It’s absolutely paramount that mental and physical recovery is looked after or performance will be thwarted. This encompasses not just during game time, but also in training and day-to-day living too.
Having enough good sleep is key to athletes achieving substantial recovery. If sleep deprivation and poor sleep creep are present, they can both have detrimental effects on recuperative, recovery-based functions involved during rest (sleep).
Additionally, a drop-off in the quality of sleep can cause reduced healing, increased pain sensitivity, lessened pain thresholds and make athletes pain perception rise too. So, by establishing good sleeping patterns and quality sleep, it can ease pain and improve tolerance to pain.
Hindrances to sleep to watch out for
If you’ve ever doubted what sleep can offer in terms of performance, you merely have to look at the aspects we’ve covered so far. However, athletes are now coming into contact with more widespread and greater hazards to healthy sleep than ever before; and one of the main hindrances is technology.
Tech, whether coming from TV, tablet, smartphone, or any other similar form of screen device can reduce the ability to sleep correctly and sufficiently.
It’s well-documented that the night-time use of smart devices and their emitting of a blue light that interferes with sleep by suppressing melatonin release, while also messing with circadian rhythms, will inevitably ruin sleep for athletes.
Therefore, to avoid fatigue and low-level performances as an athlete and as a person in general, tech should be managed like anything else.