Have you been getting sick often? Are you getting injured more often, not feeling rested when you wake up, or starting to lose the motivation you once had for competing?
There can be many factors behind why this is happening: stress, poor nutrition, nagging injury. Athletes often overlook the possibility that their performance is suffering because they are not getting enough rest. We live in a society with a go-go-go attitude, and one of the most important pieces of recovery—SLEEP—is often sacrificed. We wake up earlier or go to bed later to fit more into the day, but what happens to your body when you aren’t getting the proper amount of Zs?
As you sleep your body is recovering from the stresses of your training and daily life, repairing itself and growing stronger. Human growth hormone is released in spurts, energy stored in your muscles (glycogen) is replenishing, damaged cells are repairing, and your cortisol levels (stress hormone) are being catabolized. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body doesn’t have sufficient time to increase those glycogen stores, leading to decreased energy and performance; cells don’t have time to build, leaving the window open to injuries and illnesses; and your mood can be off (easily irritated). On top of all that, if you’re doing this daily, “overtraining” is a real threat and burnout is just around the corner.
When an athlete is getting the proper amount of sleep their workout intensity is there, they are motivated and constantly progressing, getting stronger as they train.
What is the right amount of sleep and how do you shut off your very active mind? The right amount of sleep for you depends on your age, but a good range is 7-9 hours each night. Also, keep good sleep hygiene habits like the following:
- Maintain a regular sleep schedule and go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time.
- Avoiding substances like alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine hours before bed
- Avoid watching TV and anything else that has a screen.
- Try not to nap later in the afternoon.
- Be in bed by a set time and read a book that isn’t too stimulating.
Maintaining a solid sleep regimen will not only help you recover and increase overall performance, but you’ll also feel a lot better! And the people around you will be thankful for your chipper mood. There is no compromising when it comes to getting a good night of sleep!