Iowa Sleep Blog

The Importance of Sleep for Athletes

Monday, March 16, 2015

To be one of the best athletes in the world we know you need to train hard and eat a balanced diet. But if you’re also not sleeping well, all this hard work is going to waste. For the world’s top athletes, one night of bad sleep could be the difference between a win and a loss. Sleep and athletic performance is especially critical this time of year, as the NCAA March Madness college basketball tournament starts next week, Major League Baseball’s Opening Day kicks off in April, and playoffs for the NBA and the NHL are just around the corner.

Doctors say athletes in training should aim to get up at 10 hours of sleep a night to properly recover. A study observed the Stanford University men’s basketball team over the course of several months to see how sleep affected their workouts. The results showed that players who slept an average of two more hours a night increased their speed by five percent and their free-throw percentage by nine percent. Participants also said their reflexes responded quicker, and they felt happier overall.

Sleep is extremely important to any training regimen. Whether you’re preparing for Olympic trials or the local 5K, be sure to get at least seven hours of sleep each night to help your body repair itself from your past workout and fuel up for the next one.

Sleep coach Cheri Mah teamed with Zeo to discuss the importance of sleep for all types of athletes. Check out this infographic, which shows how much sleep some of the best athletes in the world get and how sleep deprivation and fatigue affects their game.

A couple interesting take-aways from Mah’s research:

  • Sleep improves split-second decision making abilities by 4.3%.
  • Sleep loss means an 11% reduction in the amount of time it takes to become exhausted.
  • Perceived exertion increases 17-19% after 30 hours without sleep.

Have you noticed sleep insufficiency impacting your own alertness and performance in work, school or sports? If so, the doctors at Iowa Sleep can help. Give us a call to learn more.