Sleep is an essential function for everyone, but crucial for athletes to maintain physical health and reach their performance goals.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep plays a major role in athletic performance and competitive results. During deep sleep, blood supply to the muscles increases, and a growth hormone that’s essential for muscle repair and development is released.
Here are 5 reasons why athletes need 8 hours of sleep:
1. Lack of sleep affects memory. While sleeping, your brain forms neural pathways that connect thoughts and make learning and remembering easier.
2. Lack of sleep slows decision-making. If athletes don’t get enough sleep, it will impact their cognitive performance.
3. Sleep helps with impulse control. Studies show sleep deprivation impairs self-control. When things get a little crazy, basketball players and coaches will want to avoid getting a technical that could wind up costing the game.
4. Sleep is good for tissue growth and muscle repair. While sleeping, your pituitary gland releases a growth hormone that stimulates tissue growth and muscle repair.
5. Lack of sleep weakens your immune system. During sleep, your immune system releases proteins called cytokines. Infection-fighting antibodies and cells are reduced if you don’t get enough sleep. Athletes will have a higher risk of having to miss practices or major events due to illness if they don’t get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
You can get a better night’s sleep by going to bed 15 minutes earlier and increasing it by 5 minutes each night or each week until you are getting 8 hours of sleep. Turn off electronics. Keep a pad of paper next to your bed to write down things you want to remember to do the next morning. This helps calm your mind because you’re not constantly trying to remember something. Take a hot shower or bath before bed. The water temperature will raise your body temp, but it will drop after a few minutes, which will promote sleepiness.
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