As athletes we schedule each workout, what we want to accomplish, and log the precise details of the results from each workout. We are dedicated to waking up early to train yet we frequently short change ourselves on sleep when daily commitments overflow the schedule.
We make training and proper nutrition a priority but sleep is often overlooked. In reality it is sleep that is the key to achieving better performance and overall wellness.
Not getting enough sleep on a nightly basis can reduce an athlete’s stamina, resulting in fatigue and decreased cognitive and motor skills. Studies have shown, less than 7.5 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night short changes the production of human growth hormone (HGH) to strengthen muscles and increase bone density. This can result in a greater risk of injury and illness. Sleep and successful athletic performance go hand-in-hand.
There are some individuals that require more sleep (more than the recommended 7.5 hours) than others due to higher training levels, overcoming injury or illness, or simply individual needs. For those that require additional sleep, a 30-60 minute nap mid-day is ideal. Athletes that train in the afternoon should try to take a nap one to two hours prior to training.
In addition to increased performance levels, adequate sleep improves mindset and mental outlook. Having a negative outlook going into a workout will lead to sub-par results. It is important to use each training minute to the fullest and a negative attitude is a waste of the athletes time and energy.
Along with getting adequate sleep, it is also important to plan your sleep patterns. Athletes should plan to go to bed and wake up at roughly the same time each day and get into a relaxed state of mind an hour before going to bed. I personally think there is great benefit to making sure you have finished eating two hours prior to bedtime and to create a cool and comfortable sleep environment. Sleep tight!