Diet and exercise are the usual suspects when it comes to missing your goals in the gym or sustaining more injuries than normal when training. But, the third leg of the triangle is sometimes ignored. Without sleep the fitness formula doesn’t work. Adequate sleep and athletic performance go hand in hand. Here are 5 reasons why.
Sleep Aids Recovery
Spending a few weeks increasing your power may do wonders for your success on the field, but all that cleaning and jerking takes its toll on your body. Recovery is necessary. Sleep is when that happens. Without enough shuteye, you will stop building new muscle and regulating the chemicals in your body needed to sustain the pace of a successful workout regimen.
More Sleep Means Better Reaction Times
Lack of sleep is proven to reduce reaction times. Senses dulled by too many consecutive waking hours or a cumulative lack of adequate sleep will not process information quickly nor respond to that information as fast as normal.
Sleep Reduces Risk of Injury
Many experts agree that amount of sleep is a good indicator for risk of injury in athletes of all ages and performance levels. How is this possible? Slow reaction time combined with fatigued muscles deprived of recovery time is a recipe for disaster when engaged in an athletic pursuit.
Getting enough sleep also helps with your immune system. Being sick during the season can lead to missed training sessions and shortened practices. Without proper in season training, injuries may occur more often. And, adequate sleep is a critical component of off season programs designed to boost performance and build resistance to injury.
Sleep Improves Mental Focus
It’s hard to stay in the zone when you’re running on fumes. High level athletes need to be mentally focused to perform at their best. Getting more sleep will help in this area. The more hours you log with your head on the pillow, the better your memory, decision making, and focus become.
Many professional sports teams, such as the Seattle Seahawks and Dallas Mavericks, are now providing training to their athletes to learn about the connection between sleep and athletic performance.
Lack of Sleep Means Lack of Energy
Your body stores energy in the form of glycogen. This is a reserve athletes routinely tap into when needed in the heat of competition. Lack of sleep depletes glycogen levels in the body.
Inadequate sleep can also affect your body’s metabolism. You naturally know when to process nutrients and release chemicals based on a twenty-four hour internal clock. Without proper sleep, your body becomes confused and changes your metabolic rates. This in turn can lead to anxiety, depression, and even problems sleeping.
With all the different programs and supplements available to athletes today, it is hard to believe that the best thing for increased performance is something so simple as sleep. But, it’s true. Sleep and athletic performance are forever intertwined. So, the next time you need a boost or have hit a plateau, look at how many hours you are spending in bed. The key to success might be easier to find than you think.