Sleep, or the lack of sleep, has a major impact on athletic performance, among other things. While many athletes are focused on things like finding the right energy bars to fit in with their caloric methods, they might be neglecting things like sleeping for the right amount of time.
What Does Sleep Do?
Sleeping is the body's way of repairing itself and managing the information for the day. It's like the late night filter that tosses out all the things you don't need so that your body and brain aren't full of useless information. It also helps repair tired muscles so that they can perform at their best on the next day. The recommended amount of sleep a person gets is 7-9 hours, but athletes in training should plan on sleeping more hours than that, since their bodies will need more healing and rest.
Stanford University recently conducted a study to see how sleep affected performance in athletes. When athletes slept for 2 more hours than they normally did, their speed increased by 5%, while their free throw accuracy increased by 9%. Another study revealed that athletes who got a full night's sleep experienced enhanced performance in the afternoon as opposed to the morning hours. While these studies touched on different details, it's easy to see that sleep has a measurable impact on the performance of athletes, as well as an impact on what time of the day their performance is optimal.
Suggestions for Athletes
Just as athletes adjust their diets to include things like low-carb protein bars, they have to adjust their sleep schedule as well. If you are in training and therefore more active than usual, plan on going to bed a bit earlier. Remember that the body has to rest and repair while you sleep, so you need to give it ample time to do just that.
Avoid Sleep Aids
Sleep aids can impact the way you sleep and what your body does while sleeping. Instead of using sleep aids, consider developing a pattern that tells your body it's time to go to sleep. Do the same thing every night to prepare your body for rest. You can even adjust your diet for this purpose. Just as you might eat energy bars to increase performance, consider drinking teas with natural relaxers to help relax the body and prepare it for sleep. Chamomile tea is one suggestion, but there are several other teas that also aid in relaxation. Sleep deprivation can reduce your level of performance, while added hours of sleep can increase it. You should always get a good night's sleep, but when you are in training, it's even more important to make sure you add a bit extra to compensate for the extra effort your body is putting forth. It's especially important that you avoid chemicals that can impact your sleep at this time, like alcohol and caffeine. Treat your body right by giving it the proper sleep and nutrition it needs, and it will treat you right by performing to the standards you require.
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