How does sleep improve athletic performance?
Sleep is one of the main issues that athletes often face when they're trying to improve. Better sleep is often linked to better performance. The question at the heart of this fact is why. Let's find out.
Why don't athletes turn to sleep first to improve performance?
If there's one thing that all athletes have in common, it's their desire to improve their performance levels. Whether you're a professional athlete or just getting into a new sport, you strive to be better and to win more often. Unfortunately, that's sometimes easier said than done. There are many reasons why you may be experiencing lowered performance levels, and it's always important to consult with a physician if you're concerned that there is something physically wrong. In most cases, athletes will turn to physical issues (injury, strength, etc.) before turning to sleep as the ultimate culprit.
Why better sleep can equal better athletic performance
There are multiple reasons why better sleep can ultimately lead to strong athletic performance. For one thing, sleep is actually meant to help give your brain and your heart some much-needed rest. When we're conscious, we're constantly moving and reacting, and our heart is working harder to ensure that we can do those things. Sleeping allows your body to rest and recover from the day. It's difficult to recover from injury or illness without sleeping. Cytokines, hormones that are meant to fight off infections, are also released during sleep. This can make your recovery time a bit shorter.
Of course, your physical body isn't the only thing key to your performance as an athlete. Your mental health is important too. Sleep is important for your cognition, allowing your brain to relax a bit and recharge. Without sleep, it can be hard to focus on practice and competition.
Improving your sleep
Much of improving your sleep is dependent on the setting in which you sleep. Consider buying bedsheets for better sleep if you're uncomfortable. For example, about three-fourths of people report better sleep after sleeping on sheets with a fresh scent. Make sure that you're putting yourself in a setting that is optimal for sleep. In addition, make sure you're engaging in a before-bed routine that preps you for a great night of sleep. This can include activities like turning off your phone, reading, or meditating before bed.
If you're struggling to improve your athletic performance, consider assessing your sleep and starting there. You might find that sleeping well improves your performance overall.