How Sleep Affects Everyday Performance
Sleep is something everybody needs, and the base for every task you tackle throughout the day. However, chances are that you aren't getting enough of it.
Doctors recommend that people should get between seven and nine hours of shut-eye daily. People who engage in regular physical activity or exercise need one or two hours more.
Athletes need more sleep than the usual exerciser, too, and for a very simple reason. When we sleep, our body is recovering from the day. By working out, athletes push their bodies more than the average Joe, so they have to sleep more to allow ample time for their body to rebuild muscle.
Besides recovery from the day, resting can improve reflexes and mental sharpness. Also, it is important to note that even though athletes need more sleep, it doesn't have to be all be at the same time. There is a lot of research out there about how naps positively affect athletic performance.
Let's take a look at some scientific evidence on the importance of sleep, as well as a way for you to improve your performance even if you had a rough night.
The Effect of Sleep on Reflexes and Mental Sharpness
THE IMPACT OF SLEEP ON REFLEXES
If your body is tired, you will have slower reflexes and longer response times. In most sports, especially team sports, quick reflexes can lead to things like interceptions, which can completely change the phase of the game.
There was a study carried out about the relationship between reflexes and levels of rest. The participants were split into two groups. One of the groups featured well-rested subjects. The other group had people who did not get adequate sleep.
Reflexes were tested by collecting baseline data and then having people complete tasks that require quick decisions.
The group that was sleep deprived choose the wrong option 2.4% more when compared to data collected the day before. People who were well-rested chose the right option 4.3% more often when compared to the baseline data collected 24 hours earlier.
Although these percentages may not seem high on their own, if two teams go against each other and the only distinction between the two is sleep, it could make a huge difference.
Using the numbers from the study involving the cadets, the well-rested team is 6.7% more likely to make the correct decision in a game, when compared to the tired side.
THE EFFECTS OF SLEEP ON MENTAL SHARPNESS
When people get a good night's rest, they can think clearly, remember what they hear, and make better decisions. As the amount of rest someone gets decreases, so does their ability to do all the previously mentioned tasks.
A lack of sleep and consequently, critical thinking, affects a lot of different aspects of your life. Sleep feeds creativity and processing new information. By not sleeping, you are unable to consistently develop new ideas.
When you sleep, your neural connections are strengthened. Information is also transferred from short to long term memory.
If someone doesn't get enough sleep, this can cause a long-term issue with information recall. As previously mentioned, reflexes and reaction time are also affected by not sleeping.
How do Power Naps Affect Athletic Performance?
If training sessions are done in the middle of the day or early evening, a nap before may improve your performance. A study conducted in 2016 found that napping around lunchtime had a significant impact on sprint speeds when compared to people who only slept for four hours the night before.
As previously mentioned, sleep impact mental sharpness. Naps also are a great way to increase your ability to learn. In team sports like soccer or football, if you are tired, you are less likely to remember the skill, strategy, or tactic that you are practicing.
Instead of taking a nap on your old bed, consider upgrading to a bed designed for athletes. Characteristics to be on the lookout for include comfort, breathable materials, and pressure relief. If you find one with all three, then it is not just a bed, it is a mattress for improved performance both on the pitch and off it.