With September having arrived, we at Forty Winks Co. can’t help but be excited for the start of the NFL, NBA and NHL seasons. We are huge sports fans!
With sports on our mind it got us to thinking, “How much sleep do athletes need to get their best athletic results”?
For many years, were have heard that most human beings need 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. If you're an athlete in training, you may need more. According to Jim Thornton, president of the National Athletic Trainers' Association, Athletes in training should sleep about an hour extra. You can go to sleep earlier, or take an afternoon nap. Good sleep can improve overall speed, accuracy, and reaction time in athletes.
Larry Fitzgerald, the eight-time Pro Bowl wide receiver for the Arizona Cardinals, sleeps nine hours per night. He states, "The night before gameday, I will for sure get 10 or 11 hours" https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/26/larry-fitzgerald-richard-sherman_n_3653454.html "I always get my rest and I think that's one of the things that people don't talk often about. Your body heals and repairs itself better than anything. Being able to get some sleep really does a great cause for your recovery and helping you wake up with a renewed, fresh mental and physical outlook."
It has been proven, the more physical activity you do, the more the muscles and nervous system will break down while there is stress on the body. Rebuilding of your muscles is done mostly during sleep. As a rule of thumb, athletes need more calories than most people when they're in training. This means that they require more shut eye too. You're pushing your body in practice, so you need more time to recover. If we don't get enough sleep, we don't perform well.
The more you do physically, the more time it's going to take to rebuild those systems. Some people need more sleep than others due to metabolic reasons. Individuals can possibly catch a cold or the flu as a result of a few days of poor sleep compounding. Your endocrine system and hormone profile are at work while you’re sleeping. These are important because they secrete hormones, like cortisol and testosterone. Those assist in muscle growth. After a couple days of being under-recovered and lacking sleep, your testosterone is going to drop. That affects how much muscle you can gain. In the end, training and athletic performance will be compromised.
In an interview with the Huffington Post- Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant stated that he tries to get "a solid 8 hours of sleep each night." "I’m up pretty early most days so I can fit in two or three workouts," he says. "Every day is a new chance to challenge myself and push my training to the next level. I can only do that if I keep my energy up. Sleep is an important part of that."
Getting enough sleep on a regular basis takes commitment, just like training. A lot of things in daily life can get in the way of training or proper sleep patterns. Family obligations, early morning practices, evening games, competitive stress, lack of nutrition among others.
There are several things that a person training at a top level or an average joe attempting to get or stay in shape can do.
Here is a small checklist that should benefit the athlete in you, if you can adhere to it:
- Get on a regular schedule. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day. Consistency of a routine is very key. Athletes are known to be encouraged to take naps on their game days as part of their routines. Perhaps you should too.
- Sometimes it can be hard to do, but athletes should reduce caffeine and alcohol and intake while training. Caffeine and alcohol have been proven to leave your body imbalanced. You want to avoid anything that could disrupt your sleep.
- Try to avoid sleep medication. Various medications disturb the quality of your sleep and your performance the next day.
- If you travel, give yourself time to get used to your new setting. Travelling overseas? Has there been a time zone change? Your body needs time to adjust to a new sleep schedule.
- Try blackout curtains or a sleep mask if there is light just outside of your window.
- Set your bedroom temperature to a maximum of 70 degrees F as your body prefers cooler temps. Cooler temps slow your heart rate down and you will get to sleep quicker.
There you have it. If you’re an elite athlete ready for competition or a beer league competitor, it will benefit you if you try catch a few more Zzz’s at night. Will you make that commitment?
The 99th NFL season kicks off tonight. We are excited to watch these elite athletes perform. Are you?