How sleep impacts athletic performance

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Published: March 1, 2020

We all heard it. Sleep is important. However, it is easy to see why people who seek to do a lot, who are focused and dedicated to their craft, would loathe sleep and avoid it. It is often seen by such people, of which many are athletes, as a waste of time. Basically, it is a specified amount of time that your body basically makes you waste, and a lot of people are trying to find a way around it. In other words, they try to shorten it or take a lot of caffeine. However, will this affect them? If so, in what way? How much is known on how sleep impacts athletic performance?  

All the ways on how sleep impacts athletic performance

Well, to understand the ways in which sleep is important to an athlete, it is important to understand in what ways sleep is important for a healthy lifestyle in general. Sleep is, in essence, a regeneration process. It allows our body, and especially our mind, to rest.

sleep impacts athletic performance
What kind of impact does good sleep have?

But why is it needed? Well, the brain is a complicated machine. It is actually so complex that we are not sure how exactly it works. It was even once said that if the brain was that simple that we could understand it, we would be too simple to understand it. However, just because the system is complicated, that does not mean that we do not understand correlations between input into and output out of the system in question. In this case, our thinking organ, the brain.

Studies concluded how sleep impacts athletic performance in many ways. Reaction time, attention, recovery… All of those things are better when the person is not sleep deprived. And, if sleep deprivation is ever-present, there could be some serious and evident damages to one’s physical health and mental state.

Reaction time and focus

As any freelance personal trainer Dubai, the greatest foe of any sportsman is fatigue. Tiredness is one thing. It is normal to be tired after, well tiring physical activity. However, fatigue is quite another story. You will find that it is much harder to much of anything when you are sleep deprived. If you are into precision sports (though most of the sports are demanding accuracy of some sorts anyway) it will be next to impossible for you to provide satisfying performance. This is because of the way of how sleep impacts athletic performance 

The study by A. Williamson and A. Feyer found that moderate sleep deprivation produces impairments in cognitive and motor performance equivalent to legally prescribed levels of alcohol intoxication. The study had 39 subjects, of which most were drivers while somewhere army personnel went 28 hours without sleep. Their response time was wapping 50% slower and accuracy was a lot poorer than if they were at 0.05% alcohol.

Therefore, if you value your speed as well as your accuracy, you should follow the conclusion of this study and get yourself a good night’s sleep.

Lower energy

There are also other things that sleep deprivation can do, but this time tied to things your body does, rather than your mind. You might find that your bench press workouts are not going as great as you would hope when you haven’t slept the previous night. This is because your body will lack the necessary glycogen and carbohydrates usually produced during a good night’s sleep.

More sleeping – more energy

The more high-intensity the sports activity you engage in is, the more you need your sleep. Don’t be running marathons if you don’t sleep well previously. You will simply have less energy to rely on and will have to supplement it in unnatural ways with side effects you should avoid if possible.

Proneness to injury

With fatigue and less energy, but drive for victory still unblemished, there are injuries that can occur. This is because you will push yourself far beyond the breaking point. If you are eager to reach that weight goal in any way necessary, that is good, but consider exercising just enough to also get sleep, and of course try to balance your diet out, maybe even adopt intermittent fasting benefits. If you are a true athlete, however, just remember that sleep is part of the practice, it is helping your brain, your partner in crime, to rest and avoid making a mistake.

Recovery – One of the most important ways of how sleep impacts athletic performance

The brain is the greatest part of your nervous system, the one responsible for you being in control of your body. Sleep is when its regenerate, and we talked before as to how important it is for your mental focus for it to gain its rest. However, as an athlete, you might be wondering too as there are physical benefits. That is definitely a big part of how sleep impacts athletic performance.

How does sleep impact recovery?

You will be happy to know that sleep is not there just for your brain to recuperate and deal with your experiences of the previous day. During sleep, many autonomous things happen. Hormone production increases and your muscles grow.

It is easy to see why sleep would be important in the context of an injury. Your body is working hard to help your muscles while you sleep. Therefore it is crucial for your body to use this time to heal while you are not active.

How much sleep should an athlete have?

First off, what kind of sleep are we talking about?

  • REM Sleep is the sleep we mostly talked about when considering how sleep impacts athletic performance. It is induced when sleeping for a lot of time, usually with dreams, and is connected to brain activity.
  • Non-REM sleep is shallower but can also help with a lot of regenerations. Think naps. Use the naps to make up for lost time if you can afford it. Just be sure to keep it shorter than 30 minutes or you will be going into the REM phase which will make you sleepy.
  • Ideal? For an average adult, around eight hours. For an athlete, go for ten.

Therefore, don’t waste much time and find the best way for you to fall asleep.

How sleep impacts athletic performance -To sum it all up

In summary, there are quite a lot of ways of how sleep impacts athletic performance. In general, the lack of it is dangerous. Keep that in mind while you practice being the best there is, or simply do activities for fitness and aim for a healthier life!

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