Ready To Play: “Sleep” Why it is important for athletes

Updated: Nov 2, 2020

Sleep plays a vital role in athletic performance and competitive results. The quality and amount of sleep athletes get is often the key to winning. Professional athletes such as Roger Federer, Sarina Williams, Usain Bolt, and many others are on record as saying that sleep is the most vital part of their daily life regime. To perform at their highest level, they need to sleep 10-12 hours a day.

Lots of physical activity puts more demand on muscle and tissues, and the body repairs itself during slumber. Sleep not only relaxes your muscles, but it is also a surefire performance booster.

The performance of athletes and physical recovery are both linked directly to the quality and amount of sleep they get. Well-rested athletes tend to be more agile, reflexive, faster, and perform for a longer duration.

Whereas, the athletes who do not get enough sleep are vulnerable to fatigue, low energy, and poor-focus on the game. It may also slow their recovery post-game. This article will outline how inadequate sleep affects athletics performance and why it is essential for them to get enough sleep.

How sleep affects Athletic Performance

Sleep well could mean the differences between putting up 50 points and living with 25. Some studies suggest that inadequate sleep can increase the level of stress, hormones, and cortisol. It also decreases the production of carbohydrates and glycogen that is present for energy use during physical activity.

Not getting enough sleep has an impact on what is happening inside your body, and it can make you tired way too early. A potential decrease in immune system function is also the cause of less sleep, and athletes who sleep less are more likely to suffer an injury. Other studies have shown that by incorporating adequate sleep into their routine:

Tennis players can have a 4.2% increase in hitting accuracy.

The swimmers can have a 17% improvement in starting times.

Basketball players can increase free throw and 3-points shooting percentage by 9% each.

Well-rested football players dropped 0.1 seconds off their 40-yard dash time.

Sleep improves split-second decision-making ability by 4.3%.

How can athletes sleep better?

A night of good sleep is crucial for physical and mental health. Just like training, getting enough sleep requires commitment. To ensure a comfortable sleep, at first, you need to build a pre-sleep ritual.

Start with making a timetable and get on a regular schedule. Go to bed early and get up at the same time every day.

While traveling to a new place for competition, make sure to get there a few days early so that your body can adjust, and you can get settled for a normal-sleep schedule.

Avoid sleep medication unless a registered medical practitioner has prescribed it.

Avoid anything that disturbs your sleep. Reduce the consumption of caffeine and alcohol.

Sleep can help you with

Sleep is an influential factor that affects the quality of training, performance, and the ability of an athlete to function optimally. Usually, 7- 8 hours of sleep can alleviate aches and pains, promote good blood flow, and coll the body to a reasonable temperature.

Researches also show that short-term sleep extension of one additional hour for five days indicates clear benefits on athletes’ visual search ability to respond-quickly when faced with a distraction. Some good old shut-eye can have various psychological, physical, and physiological effects. For improving athletic performance, better sleep can help you with:

Reaction Time

In competition, the smallest fraction of time will make a big difference. Lack of sleep is known to reduce this alertness and decrease reaction times. Studies have shown that not having enough sleep proved to have the same effect on reaction time as alcohol intoxication.

Learning and Memory

Sleep helps in learning and memorizing things in a better way. It is an essential part of learning new tasks that require both motor coordination and performance. The earlier stages of sleep are known to consolidate memory muscle, whereas a sleep-deprived person cannot learn efficiently. Its attention and focus get out, and hence it becomes difficult for him to receive and apply new and existing information.

Illness susceptibility

Different studies have shown that an athlete who is taking an 8-hour sleep is three times more likely to stay safe from developing a cold after direct application of the cold virus than those who slept less than 8 hours.

Other benefits of proper sleep

Over the years, research has shown a direct correlation between sleep and athletic performance. No matter how many skills you have and how hard you train, without adequate sleep, you cannot perform to your full potential. Good sleep can have further benefits, and it can boost your athletic performance in several ways. A good 8-9 sleep will:

  • Increase your intensity

  • Boost your coordination

  • Makes you faster

  • Boost your immune system

  • Increase productivity

  • Promote a stable mood

  • Strengthen your Mental Fortitude


Comfortable sleep is essential to enhance performance, learning, and developing physical and mental health. If you want to be on top of your game and want to enjoy every bit of it, getting a proper amount of sleep is necessary. It is essential not only for good performance, but it will help you on the road to good fitness, good eating, and good health. To optimize athlete performance, make sure to promote consistent sleep routines and sleep length.

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