How Inadequate Sleep Affects An Athlete’s Performance.
Training, diet, and practice are all essential for an athlete, but there’s one piece that many athletes and trainers forget – sleep. Many athletes do not get the quality and quantity of sleep they need when they are pushing their bodies to be the best.
The Benefits of Sleep for an Athlete
Sleep is important for everyone – athlete or not. However, it does have some added benefits for athletes. Our bodies do most of their rest and repairing during the night. This is even more important for someone who partakes in regular physical activity.
Our brains also go through important activities while we are asleep. Sleep allows us to form the pathways that help us retain information and maintain memories. This is essential for athletes learning new skills and plays.
The Risks of Poor Sleep for Athletes
Poor sleep can decrease cognitive function. This can negatively affect things like decision-making and quick thinking – both important in athletics. Sleep deprivation can also lead to poor judgments and-risk taking.
Sleep deprivation can lead to decreased stamina and quicker exhaustion. It can also lead to a decreased reaction time and lower accuracy. It is also linked to mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and stress.
Poor sleep can also affect the immune system leaving athletes more susceptible to illness. In contact sports, this means an athlete with a weakened immune system is at risk of spreading sicknesses to the whole team.
And there is plenty of data to back all of this up.
A study at Stanford looked into the effect of extending sleep length for otherwise healthy basketball players. The student-athletes maintained their normal sleep pattern for 2-4 weeks to create a baseline and then extended their sleep to 10 hours or more in the weeks after. The researchers found, among other things, an improvement in sprinting speed and a 9% increase in free-throw accuracy after the athletes extended their sleep.
Another study has found that grades in school and hours of sleep per night were the best independent predictors of injury. Athletes who slept less than 8 hours a night were 1.7 times more likely to become injured than their colleagues who slept over 8 hours.
Sleep is essential for everyone – especially those who are demanding the best of their bodies. If you are concerned about the quality of sleep you or another athlete you know is experiencing, contact us today. We offer non-invasive treatments for Obstructive Sleep Apnea to help you thrive and reach your full potential.