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How To Sleep Like An Elite Athlete – Infographic

The differences between winning and losing are fractional for elite athletes, so they look carefully at every possible method to enhance performance. What has emerged from countless studies and practices is something we all know instinctively: proper sleep is absolutely essential.

Whether you are an athlete or simply looking to perform daily tasks better, the following information proves why you should take a long, hard look at your bed and how you sleep.

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The essential benefits of sleep

During sleep, the brain downloads information from the day and refines new skills. These improvements help every aspect of competition:

  • Sharper cognition
  • Better mood regulation
  • Greater alertness

Inadequate rest and recovery makes athletes more likely to sustain injuries. Sleep helps in hidden, but powerful ways:

  • Increased metabolism
  • Accelerated tissue repair
  • Boosted immune function

How much sleep do athletes need?

Sleep recommendations for athletes and fans alike:

School age children (6-13): 9-11 hours
Teenagers (14-17): 8-10 hours
Younger adults (18-25): 7-9 hours
Adults (26-64): 7-9 hours
Older adults (65+): 7-8 hours

Getting ready for the big day

Banking extra sleep hours — Athletes will stockpile by sleeping up to 10 hours per night leading up to a big event, a proven technique for increasing athletic performance.

Cool and calm — Athletes battle pre-game jitters with a calming evening the day before the competition. They eat light, relax, and avoid TV, computers and phones.

Didn’t sleep well? — 60%-70% of athletes experience poor sleep the night before a crucial game, regardless of preparation. They may be tired, but performance is rarely affected from a single bad night of sleep.

Good sleep equals better performance

Getting sleep:

  • 4.3% – Improvement in split-second decisions with proper sleep
  • 20-30 minutes – The length of a nap needed for 100% improvement in alertness
  • 68% – Decrease in injury rates for athletes who get 8 or more hours of sleep

What Happens When You Miss Sleep?

3x decrease in attention and slowed reaction times with two days of sleeping 6 hours or less.

48 hours – How long a person would have to stay awake to match the cognitive performance of a chronic restricted sleeper.

Champions love to sleep

“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, sprinter, eleven-time world champion, eight-time Olympic gold medalist

“When in competition or heavy training, sleep is the most important factor in achieving my optimal athletic performance.” – Rebecca Johnston, hockey player, world champion, two-time Olympic gold medalist

“It sounds simple, but getting the proper rest really does increase my confidence and abilities on and off the track.” Apolo Ohno, speed skater, ten-time world champion, two-time Olympic gold medalist, three time World Cup title holder, Dancing with the Stars champion

“There’s no better recovery than sleep.” – LeBron James, basketball player, three-time NBA champion, four-time NBA MVP, two-time Olympic gold medalist

“I love sleep. I am a good sleeper, I take naps every day, I try to sleep at least 10 hours at night.” – Lindsey Vonn, skier, two-time world champion, Olympic gold medalist, twenty-time World Cup title holder

“…A good mattress is important wherever I go, as I’m always trying to find something that’s comfortable and allows me to sleep as well as I possibly can.” – Tom Brady, five-time Super Bowl champion, two-time NFL MVP, NCAA champion

Building better sleep habits

  • Exercise earlier and avoid stimulants
  • Sleep in a dark, cool and quiet environment
  • Establish a routine by going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day
  • Switch off the screens

Sources:

The essential benefits of sleep

-Thornton, Lindsay. “Elite Athletes and Sleep: How Much are they Getting? What Happens when they Don’t Get Enough? Why Short Term Sleep Extension might be a Performance Enhancement Strategy.” Olympic Coach May 2016, Volume 27, Issue 1.
-https://aasm.org/studies-link-fatigue-and-sleep-to-mlb-performance-and-career-longevity/

How much sleep do athletes need?

-https://sleepfoundation.org/press-release/national-sleep-foundation-recommends-new-sleep-times/
-https://www.fatiguescience.com/blog/tips-for-athletes-to-get-their-rest-before-a-big-game/
-Thornton, Lindsay. “Elite Athletes and Sleep: How Much are they Getting? What Happens when they Don’t Get Enough? Why Short Term Sleep Extension might be a Performance Enhancement Strategy.” Olympic Coach May 2016, Volume 27, Issue 1.

Good sleep equals better performance

-Maddox, W. Todd, et al. “The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Information-Integration Categorization Performance,” Sleep 2009, Volume 32, Issue 11.
-Dinges, David F., et al. “Cumulative Sleepiness, Mood Disturbance, and Psychomotor Vigilance Performance Decrements During a Week of Sleep Restricted to 4-5 Hours per Night,” Sleep 1997, Volume 20, Issue 4.
-https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/napping
-Van Dongen, Hans P.A., et al. “The Cumulative Cost of Additional Wakefulness: Dose-Response Effects on Neurobehavioral Functions and Sleep Physiology From Chronic Sleep Restriction and Total Sleep Deprivation,” Sleep 2003, Volume 26, Issue 2.
-Thornton, Lindsay. “Elite Athletes and Sleep: How Much are they Getting? What Happens when they Don’t Get Enough? Why Short Term Sleep Extension might be a Performance Enhancement Strategy.” Olympic Coach May 2016, Volume 27, Issue 1.

Champions love to sleep

-http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/09/sport/train-like-an-olympian/index.htm
-https://www.fatiguescience.com/blog/infographic-why-athletes-should-make-sleep-a-priority-in-their-daily-training/
-https://sleeptowin.wordpress.com/2013/05/07/sleep-to-win-testimonials/
-http://www.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=10954
-https://www.cbssports.com/nba/news/in-multi-billion-dollar-business-of-nba-sleep-is-the-biggest-debt/
-https://www.thriveglobal.com/stories/13595-tom-brady-my-wife-doesn-t-even-allow-cell-phones-near-the-bed-when-we-sleep

Building better sleep habits
-https://www.gssiweb.org/en/sports-science-exchange/Article/sse-167-sleep-and-athletes
-https://sleepfoundation.org/bedroom/

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