When Usain Bolt, winner of 8 Olympic Gold medals, was asked what he considers to be the most important part of his daily training regime, his answer was surprising:
“Sleep is extremely important to me – I need to rest and recover in order for the training I do to be absorbed by my body” – Usain Bolt.
Coming from the greatest sprinter in history, one cannot help but take this simple solution seriously – and he’s not the only one. Tennis legend Roger Federer is known to sleep for 11 to 12 hours every night whilst LeBron James gets 12 hours of sleep every night, and with good reason. Science has continuously credited athletic performance to sleep – here’s how:
After strenuous training sessions, sleep provides a balance between stress, fatigue and recovery time. The result? Increased alertness and intensity during match-time. Reaction time and reflexes play a crucial role in athletic performances, and lack of sleep prevents athletes from performing with their best. Sleep deprivation has also been found to impair judgement, resulting in more mental errors.
Reduces Injuries, Prolongs Career:
A proper night’s rest enhances endurance and cell repair post-training and/or match-time. Not only does this reduce chances of injury, but can also contribute in having a long, fatigue-free career.
Improves Emotional Wellbeing:
In a profession where competition is inevitable, being in a positive headspace is of utmost importance. Sleep acts as a medium to destress, unwind and helps regenerate motivation by taking mind off from the field. In fact, lack of sleep has been linked to anxiety, frustration, irritability, diminished vigor and lower confidence – all of which can be detrimental to a flourishing career.
For athletes, sleep becomes a crucial pillar of success as it restores physiological, biochemical and cognitive restoration to their body – resulting in increased focus, improved reaction times and motor function, and better accuracy during match-time.