“Fatigue makes cowards of us all” – Vince Lombardi
By Dr. Jatin Joshi, Founder of OneSecond Supplements
Everyone knows that nutrition and exercise are critical in reaching top athletic performance but another crucial part of that is sleep. Research has shown that a good quality and quantity of sleep is essential for peak performance; so when seconds can make the difference between winning and losing, a good nights’ sleep may just provide the edge you need to win.
Whether you are an elite athlete or someone who is simply trying to up their game, check out Dr. Jatin Joshi’s sleep hacks on why sleep is important and how to optimize sleep for playing away games.
Why is sleep important in Athletes?
- Speed – Optimal sleep results in boosts of speed, faster reaction times and improved reflexes up to 10% over that of the sleep-deprived individual(1).
- Alertness – Mental strength is as important as physical conditioning in elite athletes. Not being fully alert and mentally prepared can mean you have lost before stepping onto the field of competition. Getting the right amount of sleep will have you feeling refreshed and razor sharp for the day ahead(2).
- Intensity – Athletes who are able to get good quality sleep for at least 8 hours have shown to be able to train and work out at higher intensities for longer periods. This gives them the edge to push themselves to the limit(3).
- Coordination and muscle memory – Sleep is crucial for memory consolidation including those that are linked to body movements. If you don’t sleep the night after training then even if you sleep the next night or the night after your body will never learn. So for perfect touchdowns, golf swings, tennis backhands or jump shots getting good quality sleep after training is essential(4).
- Reduced injury rates – Several studies have concluded that injury rates in athletes increased after less than 6 hours of sleep a night and that ‘sleep hours’ was the strongest predictor of injuries even more so than hours of practice 5. This is principally due to fatigue and its effect on reaction times in addition to the fact that a fatigued athlete is more susceptible to illness and has less time for the body to repair itself(4).
Sleep tips for athletes performing in away games.
- Sleep Space – Make your bedroom/hotel room a sleep and recovery area. Book a quiet comfortable room away from noise. Switch off electronic devices, keep the room cool (60-66 degrees), take your favorite pillow and anything that helps you to sleep at home.
- On the plane – Get comfortable, take a pillow, remove your shoes. Drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol and caffeine.
- Crossing time zones – This can throw off your bodies natural clock (circadian rhythm). To help overcome this adjust your sleep schedule ahead of time so that 3-5 days before your flight shift your bedtime and wake time closer to your destination time zone.
- Light exposure – If it’s daylight when you arrive take a brisk outdoors walk, avoid napping and try to get as much sunlight as possible. If it’s night time, consider sleep aids that may help you drift off like sleep masks and ear plugs.
- Melatonin – Try melatonin before your desired bedtime. Melatonin is clinically proven to reduce the effects of jet lag and help synchronize your body’s circadian rhythm to your new time zone. It is especially helpful when crossing 4 or more time zones.
- Williamson A, Feyer A. Moderate sleep deprivation produces impairments in cognitive and motor performance equivalent to legally prescribed levels of alcohol intoxication. Occupational and Environmental Medicine. 2000;57(10):649-655. doi:10.1136/oem.57.10.649.
- Mah CD, Mah KE, Kezirian EJ, Dement WC. The Effects of Sleep Extension on the Athletic Performance of Collegiate Basketball Players. Sleep. 2011;34(7):943-950
- Fullagar, H.H.K., Skorski, S., Duffield, R. et al. Sleep and Athletic Performance Sports Med (2015) 45: 161.
- Milewski, Matthew D. MD et al Chronic lack of sleep is associated with increased sports injuries in adolescent athletes. Journ Ped Ortho. 2014:34 (2):129-133