When it comes to sport we know that what you eat is important and so is when you train, how you train and don’t let us forget the importance of keeping hydrated. However, could sleep be playing just as much of a role on your training and performance?

Athletes depend on their reaction time for their performance. Sleep deprivation has been and is known to reduce reaction times rather significantly. Recovering from a single all nighter can take several days. An athlete can’t expect to perform at their best on less than a full night’s sleep either. Sleepiness leads to impaired performance, no matter what sport you play.

Hand-eye coordination in both tracking and dual tasks also lessen when you are sleep deprived. Your body needs its sleep for the restoration of its physiological, biochemical and cognitive functions and capability. Along with coordination, accuracy is affected by sleep.

Due to slower reaction times and motor functions, the ability to respond accurately is reduced as well as which could lead to an increased risk of injury. Studies have shown that injury rates increase after receiving less than 6 hours of sleep the night before.  Shorter periods of sleep means that the body does not have the sufficient time needed to regenerate cells and recover from the abuse of workouts, games and general daily activities.

Sleep affects these various aspects of our bodies and minds:

  • Reaction times and motor function 

  • Motivation

  • Focus

  • Stress regulation

  • Muscle recovery

  • Sprint performance

  • Muscle glycogen

  • Glucose metabolism

  • Memory and learning

  • Injury risk

  • Illness rates

  • Unwanted weight gain

Sleep reduces the chemicals associated with stress, naturally increases the human growth hormone, recovery rate and performance. By getting sufficient and the optimal amount of sleep is crucial in reaching peak athletic performance. Sleep is needed after the end of a day if adverse effects on performance are to be avoided. Sleep helps you maintain and improve your fitness level and help you keep up with good eating habits and a healthy lifestyle. Sleep is a crucial pillar of sleep for athletes and it has a big impact on performance both on and off the field.