How Athletic Performance Improves with Sleep

If you’re a sports enthusiast - as a spectator, a participant, or both - you know the human body is an amazing machine capable of unbelievable athletic feats.


But those abilities aren’t just a given. They’re accomplished through natural talent, strict training, committed practice and, as we are increasingly learning, sleep.

Yes, you read that correctly. Sleep. Coaches and elite athletes alike have begun to understand how instrumental adequate sleep can be in gaining an upper hand over competitors.

The Link Between Sleep and Athletic Performance

The sleep - athleticism link isn’t just theory. More than a few recent research studies show a notable link between quality sleep and an increase in performance.

Want proof? Cheri Mah, a researcher at the Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic and Research Laboratory, has worked directly with Stanford athletes since 2002 to gauge the effects of sleep on performance.

Among many other examples, Mah found the men’s basketball team successfully improved their free throw shooting by 11.4 percent and their three-point shooting by 13.7 percent when they increased their sleep by two hours per night!  We think Mah’s conclusion that getting extra sleep results in improvements in athleticism, mood, and alertness is more than plausible.

 

Why Does Better Sleep Equal Better Athletic Performance?

According to sleepfoundation.org, sleep deprivation decreases glycogen and carbohydrates which are both stored and used for energy during exercise. And you already probably know from experience that inadequate sleep causes tiredness, poor energy, a decline in split-second decision-making, and poor focus.

In athletics, which requires endurance and quick reflexes, it’s easy to see why not getting enough sleep is so detrimental.


What Do Coaches and Athletes Say?

Professionals are overwhelmingly sold on the belief that sleep is vital to performance. Many teams have already quietly incorporated sleep into their training regimens.

San Diego Padres catcher Austin Hedges was quoted in MLB.com on the benefits of increased sleep. "If you're doing it on a daily basis, it's huge. It can be super beneficial to your performance on the field.”

And Superstar Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, who gets seven-and-a-half hours of sleep nightly, tracks his sleep as diligently as he does his swimming times.


What Does This Mean for You?

Just because you aren’t an elite athlete doesn’t mean you don’t want to be competitive. Anything worth doing is worth doing well, right?

Are you or your kids already training diligently to improve run pace or speed and agility in a team sport? Then it’s worth looking at ways to improve sleep quality and duration as part of your training. Don’t think you can make that happen? Here are some suggestions we think can help:

  • Get enough. Experts suggest adults should get between seven and nine hours of sleep every night.
  • Get on schedule. Set a consistent bedtime every night that will ensure you can secure enough shut eye before the alarm goes off in the morning.
  • Follow our advice. Check out our proven methods for drifting off to dreamland.
  • Chill out. Make sure your room is set at the optimum temperature of about 65 degrees.
  • Take naps. Fifteen minute micro naps during the day can help make up for the occasional poor night’s sleep or just leave you feeling mentally refreshed after a stressful day.
Upgrade your mattress. This is a no-brainer. Consider replacing your lumpy, bumpy mattress with a Zonkd premium copper gel memory foam and Talalay latex foam creation. We don’t guarantee it will improve your athleticism, but we think the improved support, coolness, and plush comfort are still must-haves for a great, uninterrupted night’s sleep.

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