The levels of physical and mental exertion required to maintain performance at the elite level mean effective recovery is essential. Good quality sleep is one way of getting exactly that.
Inputs such as competition, playing schedules, and travel can impact the ability to recover while sleeping. But that doesn’t mean it should be ignored. Overnight sleep recovery is one of the most important factors when trying to optimize performance.
Sports teams across the globe are starting to invest in sleep. There are Premier League clubs experimenting with amber-lensed glasses to block out unwanted light sources. Real Madrid previously hired a sleep expert to educate the players on sleep hygiene. In the United States, it is reported that almost half the NFL franchises had investigated using sleep monitoring equipment as of 2016
There are good reasons why teams across the sporting landscape are seeking out sleep solutions. Research has shown the impact effective sleep has on a range of factors that affect performance.
A recent study on college basketball players at Stanford University showed that athletes who aimed to achieve 10 hours of sleep per night saw their reaction times significantly improve.
Keeping players healthy and available for selection is always a top priority. Neglecting sleep hygiene only makes achieving that ambition more difficult.
In a 2012 study, it was found that adolescent athletes who slept for at least eight hours per night were 68% less likely to get an injury during activities than those who had fewer than eight hours.
Sleep deprivation can affect hormone levels. Poor sleep leads to higher levels of cortisol which, in turn, reduces tissue growth and repair.
In a game of fine margins, making the correct decision in the heat of the moment can be the difference between winning and losing. Low quality sleep is widely known to have an impact on an individual's cognitive functions such as decision-making and concentration.
A recent study showed “athletes with poor sleep quality have higher levels of confusion compared with athletes reporting good sleep quality.” Meanwhile, a wider sleep study showed better sleep increases split-second decision-making by 4.3 percent.