As an athlete, getting the right amount of sleep is primordial. This imminently impacts your performance. Getting enough sleep can actually enhance accuracy, speed and reaction times. So the question is, “How much sleep do athletes need?”
And while there’s no fixed recipe on how many hours of sleep athletes need, you should get somewhere between seven to nine or even ten hours of sleep each day.
If you’re training, you might require more than that. For instance, I tend to sleep more after a vigorous High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) section. And it is amazing. I get up feeling relaxed and refreshed. But we’ll get into more detail but now let’s look at what you shouldn’t do.
Sleep Deprivation and Why you Shouldn’t be Proud of it
Unfortunately, there’s a growing trend in the entrepreneurial world where sleep deprivation is glorified as being more productive. You may have to perish that thought especially, as an athlete.
Of course, as an entrepreneur, you’ll need to get your business off the ground by increasing your productivity level. And not sleeping when you need to, can never be the solution.
Not enough Sleep is Equal to Getting Drunk
Imagine getting drunk most of the time. And hearing so-called gurus, experts and influencer is recommending you get a little drunk very early in the morning for peak performance.
You might say that is insane. How is it possible that people who’re supposed to be full of energy every day -think of doing such a thing.
This is exactly how being sleep deprived looks like. There have been studies and comparisons made of the performance of somebody who is sleep-deprived and the performance of someone who is slightly drunk. Both experiences are quite similar.
Not having quality sleep is the new booze.
Deprived of quality sleep can impact your cognitive performance, increase your stress level and you could have trouble focusing.
According to research as alluded to in Matthew Walker’s epic book, “Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams” which you can find on Amazon.
Dr. Walker does an outstanding job of helping you understand the mystery of why we sleep and unravels some of its mysteries.
Do you know your brain shuts down motor control to your muscles during the most active part of sleep, often referred to as REM sleep
How much do sleep deprivation costs?
Apart from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States declaring insufficient sleep a ‘public health problem’, not getting enough sleep can be very costly.
A study to assess the wider economic effect of sleep deprivation, up to 3 percent of GDP is lost due to lack of sleep, and an increase in sleep could add billions of dollars to a country’s economy.
Also, check out my mentor Shane Melaugh’s podcast episode on Sleep Deprivation on Entrepreneurs.
Sleep and Athletic Performance
Why would an athlete in training require more sleep?
If you’re a professional athlete, you may be questioning yourself, “How Much Sleep Do Athletes Need” because you’re either not having enough sleep or you’re sleeping way too much.
It’s as simple as this: when you’re training, your body uses more fuel than usual. The same goes for caloric intake. When you’re training, you are challenging your body to push beyond its limits.
So, this would require more time for recovery. Perhaps, you might want to sleep one or two hours more after your routine on a cardio machine. Another idea might be taking an afternoon nap. It depends on what works best for you.
Have you ever felt extremely exhausted during your training sessions?
If the answer is yes, then this might be a way to explain that. It happened to me many times to observe setbacks in my performance, and I couldn’t point out the root of the problem.
It became crystal clear to me eventually that it was due to my lack of sleep. This infographic from purple.com says it all.
• Why Is Sleep So Important to an athlete?
According to specialists, sleep is primordial as this is when the body recovers. Throughout this time, the body enters a repair process. This is why you wake up refreshed the next day – or you should, at the very least.
If you do note that you don’t feel well-rested in the morning, then this might indicate you don’t get enough sleep.
• My Experience with Sleeping as an Athlete
As I was going through my training period and I was dealing with setbacks, my trainer suggested getting more sleep. Although it seemed unlikely that this would solve my problem, I did that.
What did I have to lose?
Eventually, I was the winner. I was surprised by what I found. My speed increased by 5 percent. Not to mention that my overall performance was better.
Aside from this, I felt better about myself, more enthusiastic and eager to better myself.
Sleep Is Like Water, Food or Air – Don’t Ignore It!
Considering the importance of sleep for our overall wellbeing, why is it that we give it less importance than it actually has? Perhaps that’s because of the way in which society is structured. We tend to overlook sleep the most, out of all our basic needs.
Research shows that lack of sleep will most likely increase fatigue, lead to lower energy levels and even impair our ability to focus.
What should we do then?
We should all understand that sleep is as important as getting water, food or air. It’s as simple as that. When I decided to give sleep the same importance I gave to my cardio exercises and dietary choices, for instance, things changed drastically. For the better – of course.
Something else you must know is that you should know how much sleep your body needs. And I’m not talking only about how much you need to survive – but how much sleep you need to thrive.
Getting enough sleep – around 9 to 10 hours – will enhance your mental stamina and physical energy. Been there, done that. If you were to talk to basketball players, they would say that good sleeping habits can increase shooting accuracy. And the same goes for tennis players, and not only.
On the other side, sleep deprivation will affect your reaction time. Not to mention that it will make you experience exhaustion quite soon.
Best Ways to Get More Sleep
In theory, getting more sleep might be easy. In practice, things are quite different. If you don’t have a specific sleeping routine, then you might find it difficult to get more sleep than you are.
That was the case for me, at the very least. We are creatures of habit. This is why it takes some time and determination to change and implement new habits such as exercising as a beginner.
But difficult doesn’t mean impossible. If I could do it, then you can do it as well. What worked for me was having a regular bedtime routine and doing things that got me in a sleeping mode, so to speak. Basically, you have to learn to train your body to do what you want it to do.
Your mind is your most powerful tool – you need to learn to use it to its highest potential. So use it.
Your active mind and body need sleep. You rely on sleep to perform better and to enhance your training. This is why you should make a priority out of getting more sleep.
- You should try to go to bed and wake up at the same hour every day. The same goes for naps – if naps work better for you.
- You should also turn off electronics prior to getting to sleep. When you eliminate stimulation – this includes television, computer screens, and other distractions – you allow your mind and body to unwind. In addition to that, you will give yourself time to relax.
- Another tip that did wonders for me was keeping a cool, dark sleeping environment. Our sleeping environments influence us more than we may think. Your bedroom should instill a sense of peace and quiet. So that when you go in there, you feel tranquil and in the mood for sleeping!
- Something else that worked for me was getting enough fresh air and sunshine. This can be pretty difficult in the colder months. But if you make it a priority, you can get your source of vitamin D and air just as well. And you will sleep like a baby.
Do you feel that, as an athlete, you aren’t getting enough sleep? If that’s the case, you should definitely try to establish a regular sleeping routine.
The tips outlined above will be helpful, but you need to stay perseverant and consistent. Changing your sleeping habits doesn’t happen overnight.
Take things slowly and keep on working on getting better – you can do it!
Enjoy your sleep…