How does sleep help athletic performance?
For most people, the difference between getting 7-8+ hours of sleep per night compared to 6 or fewer hours is profound for multiple systems. Some of the general benefits of sleep (good sleep) are improved mood, immunity, weight control, cognitive function, and creativity.
For athletes, getting 9-10 hours of sleep per night reaches beyond the positive systemic effects and can significantly alter performance. You can see improved performance in the areas of:
- increased sprint speed
- greater accuracy (I.e. shooting a basketball)
- improved reaction times
- reduced fatigue.
Sound sleep after competition and training accelerates physical recovery, cellular repair/protein synthesis, and restores glycogen/glucose stores. This recovery allows you to train harder.
Human growth hormone – which plays a significant role in the processes related to tissue (collagen, cartilage, muscle, immune cells, fat breakdown) recovery – is secreted in its highest amounts during sleep.
Adequate sleep before performance results in less anxiety and better motivation to push oneself. Perceived exertion may also be lower compared to someone sleep deprived.
So, if you’re looking to get better results from your training, make sure you are getting enough sleep. You can realize a lot of benefits to your overall performance!
by Heidi Blackie, OTR/L, CHT