The Importance of Sleep for Athletes
Sleep is a critical component of an athlete’s recovery strategy. Adequate sleep helps athletes recover both physically and mentally, allowing them to perform at their best. Here are some key reasons why sleep is so important for athletes.
Cognitive Function and Mood
Lack of sleep has been shown to affect cognitive function and mood. When athletes don’t get enough sleep (less than 6 hours per night), their glucose metabolism decreases, which affects mental and physical performance. It also impairs immune function, putting athletes at greater risk for sickness.
Muscle Growth and Repair
Sleep is when the majority of muscle repair and growth occurs. Testosterone, a hormone that allows athletes to build muscle and gain training effect from difficult workouts, is produced during sleep. Muscles are broken down during a workout and, with testosterone, are rebuilt larger and stronger.
Recovery from Stress
Stress, whether it be relational, educational, or physical, decreases the body’s ability to recover, especially as an athlete. For every two hours, an athlete spends awake and stressed, it takes one hour of sleep to recover. This means that if an athlete is awake and under stress for 16 hours a day, at least 8 hours of sleep are required for the central nervous system to recover from the overload.
During REM sleep, the body shifts its resources to the task of repairing tissues and cells, including the CNS. It is vital after physical and mental stress occurs. REM stands for Rapid Eye Movement because during this type of sleep, your mind is actually more active than at any other time of the day, including physical activity and school exams or quizzes. Without REM, information cannot be transferred from short to long-term memory.
Timing of Sleep
The timing of sleep is crucial. From sunset onwards, our bodies are designed to wind down and increase the production of growth and repair hormones. At around 10 pm, we start our sleep, and at this stage, our body then begins its physical repair. This is a very important phase, especially for those who have been doing any kind of physical exercise throughout the day. The disruption of our sleep patterns consequently disrupts our anabolic (build-up) and catabolic (tear-down) processes.
In conclusion, sleep is just as important as training for athletes. When athletes are allowed to sleep at increased levels, their mood, energy level, and performance levels increase. It is crucial to establish good sleep habits to allow for optimal physical and mental performance.
-A message from
Grazia Bizzotto Co-Owner of Sleep On Green.
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