Importance of proper sleep for athletes

Sleep is crucial to all athletes performance.  It has been studied when athletes are not sleep deprived they show strong signs of:

-Improved weight training & conditioning

-Improved focus and concentration

-Faster recovery

-Potential decrease in injuries

-Decrease in fatigue and an increase in energy

-Overall performance improved

Basically everything an athlete needs is improved by getting proper sleep and making up for any sleep debt you may have.  Two signs of sleep debt are: Feeling drowsy at any time and the quicker you call asleep the more sleep debt you have.  The only way to get rid of this debt is to extend your sleep.  Sleep debt can be built up over time, so the more nights you dont get your sleep the worse your sleep debt becomes.  All of these improvements shown by these athletes were done simply by extending their sleep by two hours until their sleep debt was gone.  Once your sleep debt is gone you will notice that the drowsiness will go away, but unfortunately it may take you longer to fall asleep at night.  

If you are having trouble falling asleep at night, or have gotten into a sleeping pattern of bed at 4am then wake up at noon and need to break it you will have to reset your biological clock.  being in the dark in the evening and at night will help as well as bright lights in the morning.  

Some myths about sleep: 

There is no such thing as too much sleep, when you over sleep you are just catching up on sleep debt which is a good thing.

When people say they can’t fall asleep because their “mind is racing”, that is simply because their biological clock is off and they need to reset it.

“I feel very drowsy after a big lunch”, that is because you are sleep deprived, and because your body tends to lul mid day and becomes more alert from 5-8.  Food has nothing to do with feeling drowsy.

Sleep is such a simple and easy way to gain so much in your sport, everyone should be taking advantage but some neglect proper sleep.  Naps are a good idea, even a ten minute nap will refresh you and boost energy levels.  Image

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