Sports and Sleep
It’s pretty obvious that sleep is something we all have to get eventually, and the sooner the better, but many people just don’t see the need for sleep. But sometimes athletes can be the worst. They think training harder and longer is the way to go, but really, sometimes sleep will give you that push you need to win. For some of those tough sleepers, sports can actually help condition your body to really need that sleep at night.
Even the pros get their sleep
A great of any sport is bound to get a lot of sleep. Michael Jordan has been said to get upwards of twelve hours of sleep in a day. Serena Williams, arguably the greatest women’s tennis player ever, has said that she enjoys going to bed early around 7 PM. Roger Federer, arguably the greatest men’s tennis player, gets over ten hours of sleep a night. Lance Armstrong even challenged people to get six to eight hours of sleep.
Each of these players – besides maybe Lance – are going to be remembered for decades to come and have personal trainers telling them how to live their life. These trainers dictate what they eat, wear, and will even tell them how much sleep they need to be getting. That’s why you’ll see all of these great players going to bed earlier than when their grandparents go to sleep. Obviously, these guys are much more active than the average athlete, but it doesn’t mean they don’t teach a very important principle.
Why do sports drain us?
Exercise and sports drain us of energy, fluids, and it breaks down our muscle. For that same reason that protein is so essential to muscle building, sleep is going to play just as big of a role in athletic performance. Muscle is being constantly broken down during exercise and being built back and stronger. If you don’t get the sleep you need your muscles can’t rebuild. That’s why it’s essential to get enough sleep to improve performance and endurance. Lack of sleep has also been linked to poor attention span, poor recovery, and lapses of output. What I mean by output is the ability to use your body effectively during a competition. If you want to get the performance out of your body that you can, then you need to get sleep. It’s not like you’re going to die if you don’t get to bed on time, but it’s hard to argue that you’re going to be able to do the best you can.
How much sleep is needed?
Sleep is completely dependent on how much your body needs to recover from the day’s activities. I mean there’s a reason you hear stories of Michael Phelps eating multiple big macs a day, some sports (like swimming) are just completely demanding compared to some other sports. If you’re a swimmer or a wrestler and your sport is much more demanding than others, you may be looking at upwards of ten hours of sleep. However, if your sport is, let’s say, bowling, then you may just need a solid eight like the rest of us. Not to bag on bowling. Bowling is a great sport, but it just doesn’t require that same muscle intensity that some of these others are going to need. Either way, it’s essential to get plenty of sleep so you can compete. If you truly think about your sport day-in-day-out, then make sure you don’t forget about the day-out portion of that. Sleep is just as important as the practice.