Many athletes overlook how the quality and quantity of their sleep has a lot to do with their performance.

When sleep is disturbed, cut short, or if you don’t get enough hours of sleep, it can disrupt your body’s standard brain functions. When you don’t get enough sleep, it can result in memory issues and trouble with thinking and concentration. For an athlete, it means not having the focus to anticipate the opposing team’s next moves. Lack of sleep could also result in having trouble with making the right decision during competition.

Sleep deprivation leads to many health problems. As insufficient sleep leads to drowsiness, athletes are more prone to accidents on the court or field. It can also affect balance and coordination, increasing your risk of falls, sprains, tears, and muscle pulls, etc. And because your body heals when you sleep, your healing is deprived when you don’t get enough sleep.

What Happens When You Get Adequate Sleep

If inadequate sleep can negatively impact an athlete’s performance, enough quality sleep can, therefore, improve athletic performance.

According to WebMD, athletes should sleep an extra hour more than what is recommended for most people. A regular person should sleep 7 to 9 hours. Your body repairs itself when you sleep; therefore, when you don’t get enough sleep, your body isn’t given enough time to recuperate and recharge.

When your body prepares for deep sleep, it relaxes and begins to produce the human growth hormone (HGH), increasing the growth of muscle tissue and regulating the body’s metabolism. During deep sleep, HGH floods your body, helping the recovery process and re-energizing of your muscles.

Prolactin has anti-inflammatory properties; they are released and aid in the recovery of your joints. During sleep, extra oxygen is supplied to your muscles, assisting in the breakdown of lactic acids. During your most profound and most restorative sleep, your muscles are most relaxed, increasing blood supply to tissues.

As mentioned, insufficient sleep impacts brain function. Therefore, adequate sleep is essential to proper brain function and necessary to learn a new skill. A good night’s sleep enhances memory, improves mental clarity, and boosts mood. And because it improves your mood, it makes it easier for you to accept new information such as new techniques and skills.

How to Get Enough Sleep

As sleep plays such a critical role in an athlete’s performance, ensuring you get enough of it should be a priority. An excellent way to make sure you get adequate sleep is by committing to a schedule; go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. If for whatever reason you don’t get enough sleep at night, take naps during the day. The key to getting enough sleep is to recognize that rest is as critical to your athletic performance as your training and diet.