Are you an aspiring professional athlete? The stamina, strength, and self-confidence of a player isn’t built in a day. Along with daily physical training, sleep is an important part that an athlete should have. Because this is an integral part, it is great to be fully aware of the benefits of quality sleep in affecting performance.
There are a lot of factors that affect the improvement of athletic performance. And although it is commonly a diluted thought in training, sleep can improve a lot of aspects in your sports career. The lack of sleep has even shown to reduce cognitive and physiological functions. Find out more of the other health benefits of sleep for young athletes here.
Improved accuracy and speed
Quality sleep has shown to impact various aspects of sports training. The accuracy and speed has greatly improved among basketball players with quality sleep. A faster sprint is possible as one extends sleep, and this has also been seen among tennis players, weightlifters and swimmers.
So rather than extending out your time in practicing your shooting accuracy, you can max out your training time, and just extend your sleep. This aids in recovery and scientific evidence is glaring on its effects in improving accuracy and speed.
The first four hours of sleep is dedicated to provide the body with physical recovery. And as athletes are prone to be fatigued and worn out for an entire day’s training, optimal recovery is a must. Young athletes can optimize athletic performance more with a fully recovered body for daily training. Recovery isn’t only focused to build up what was lost in a day, but also to prepare athletes for another day of hustle.
Sharp mental performance
While the first few hours of sleep is dedicated to recover athletes physically, the last remaining hours increase mental sharpness. There are instances when athletes only focus on physical activity, but most of the reaction time also relies on how sharp one thinks. Cognitive performance is supplemented with adequate and quality sleep, and this is best developed with growing athletes.
Aside from the benefits of optimal recovery, a full and comfortable rest also reduces the risk of injury. Young athletes who dedicate most of their days under training will most likely have an injury along their journey. The role of sleep is not to totally eliminate injuries, but to decrease the risks of having one.
Other factors that indirectly reduce the risk of injury include the mental clarity and the overall improved physical recovery. And this can all be enhanced with quality sleep.
Increased Reaction Time
There is no denying that athletes need a fast reaction time, especially during a game. Sleep greatly improves this aspect in physical training because it keeps one sharp both mentally and physically. The physiological benefits of recharging for a faster reaction time cannot be overemphasized, especially for basketball, volleyball, and tennis players among others.
The lack of sleep has also been linked to a poor reaction time, comparable to that of a drunk person. Sleep deprivation is something athletes can avoid to have better reaction time during games.
Studies have shown that the lack of sleep exhausts athletes easily. Games that require endurance and a great cardiorespiratory demand are severely affected with the lack of sleep. Thus, it only makes sense that keeping a decent amount of sleep will delay the easy exhaustion of young athletes during a game.
When a player is easily exhausted, this directly links to a poorer physical performance. Exhaustion during a game can impair reaction time, speed, accuracy, and overall strength.
Improved Muscular Function and Strength
Muscles play a huge role in one’s overall athletic performance. Muscular function is heavily polished with adequate rest and sleep. This is because sleep gives your muscles the right time to recover and replenish the nutrients that it needs for proper functioning during a game.
Muscle strength is also improved because sleep promotes the muscle-building hormones. The notion that sleep improves strength goes both ways as strength training also helps in getting a better slumber at night.
Other than hormones that boost muscle strength, there are also other hormones that are boosted with proper sleep. The growth hormone and androgen levels increase significantly with adequate sleep. Likewise, the lack of sleep or having poor quality or uninterrupted sleep does interrupt the regular flow of these hormones.
Androgen and growth hormones are necessary for athletes because they promote muscle repair. Aside from that, these hormones are also essential for muscle building and bone growth. Other benefits of optimal hormone use includes the oxidation of fat, which gives young athletes more energy and oxygen uptake.
Improved Immune Function
It is useless to refute that sleep isn’t needed for proper immune function. Evidence shows that the immune system is at its best with the right amount of sleep. This is because sleep promotes the release of the protective cytokines that fight infection and inflammation. Young and promising athletes need to avoid getting sick, and a strong immune system can be of great help.
Better Decision-Making Skills
Being an athlete does not only entail the right physical capability, mental health is just as important in one’s sports career. High quality sleep has shown to improve decision-making skills in most athletes during training and official events.
Decision-making skills are needed in a variety of sports. Techniques in basketball, volleyball, soccer, and other sports are greatly improved if one has stable decision-making abilities. This is because sleep promotes cognitive growth. Once a clear mind is ready to take on the actual game, it becomes more focused in making better decisions.
Young athletes need around 8 to 10 hours of sleep in a day. Growing does not only mean having to eat more and train more, but also to have more sleep. Aside from the training that one undergoes for a better overall performance, sleep helps build the foundation of your sports career by enhancing recovery, muscle performance, and mental sharpness among others.
Aside from getting enough sleep, the quality of the sleep is also important. It is best for young aspiring athletes to have the best quality of sleep because this develops them better, mentally, emotionally and physically.
About the Author
Charles is the editor-in-chief at SleepMatters. He manages a team of sleep experts who provide researched insights, reviews, guides on the best mattresses online. Follow SleepMatters on Facebook here.