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How does Sleep Help Me as an Athlete?

Written by Colton Rooney

Why Should Athletes Care about Sleep?

Sleep is crucial to optimizing the mental and physical exertions of athletic performance. At the most basic level, sleep allows for the body to recover from a hard workout or a tough game of basketball. Without it, key factors to athletic performance could potentially be impacted including muscle recovery, decision making, faster fatigue, and a higher risk for injury.

Benefits of Sleep as an Athlete

Repair: One of sleep's core functions is helping the body to rest and repair itself after long and exhausting workouts by repairing cells and tissues. Sufficient sleep supports active restoration of the body's muscle groups to be ready for a new workout the next day. Without sufficient sleep, the body can't repair itself properly, increasing the risk for serious injury due to fatigued and strained muscles.

Energy and Physical Performance: Similarly, sleep functions to reduce fatigue during the day, making workouts more efficient and feel more energized. Contrarily, a sleep deprived athlete will be more easily exhausted during workouts leading to suboptimal strength training and cardio performance. This can prevent reaching maximum potential on a fitness journey.

Mood: Sleep also functions as an essential mood booster to power through workouts, practices, and games. Research shows that a sufficient amount of sleep improves morale and increases an individual's motivation to workout. This leads to greater likelihood to follow through and put more energy into their workouts, leading to better and faster results. These extra hours of sleep could be the difference between an unmotivated athlete losing a basketball game and a motivated athlete scoring the game-winning basket. This notion is supported through a study run by Stanford University where the men's basketball team increased sleep duration to ten hours resulting in the following improvements:

  • athletes were able to move faster on the court

  • had an improved shooting accuracy of 9%

  • and reported a better mood

Improved Cognition: In order to make fast decisions during a high-octane sports game, strong cognitive function is key. But many neglect sleep's role in increasing cognitive function and the detrimental mental effects without it. Cognitive function can range from being late to pass the ball to a teammate with a decreased reaction time or being unable to keep up with the general movement of a game. Without proper sleep, an athlete's ability to perform well in a sports game setting could become jeopardized and cost the team a well-deserved win. Beyond sports games, decreased sleep and cognitive function can lead to a poor mental health for athletes, putting them at risk of depression or anxiety. Additionally, increased irritability from sleep deprivation can make it harder for communication between teammates leading to a hostile team environment.

In order to ensure the best performance, results, mood, reaction time, and communication on a team, at least seven hours of sleep is a must! So, go hit that pillow!

We at CoreForm360 wish you many replenishing hours of sleep to allow you to push through that workout or make that basket on the court tomorrow! Learn more about us here...

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