When you were younger, your mom probably told you to sleep at least six to eight hours every night. When you went to school, even your teachers said the same thing about sleep. However, they didn’t say this because they wanted you to turn off your television and get to bed. The truth is sleeping eight hours every night has many benefits, especially if you are on the active side.
If you are an athlete or someone who is active, you may need more than eight hours of sleep every night. Sports medicine specialists, physical therapists and orthopedic surgeons are in unison when they say a good sleep could improve an athlete’s accuracy, speed and reaction time.
If you are lack hours in the sleep department because you want to train more, then here are six reasons you need to catch up.
1. Sleep Helps Athletes Recover
Regardless of whether you are training or simple playing a game, a professional athlete or someone who just loves the sport, you put stress in your muscles and cause them to break down every time you go out there in the field. That’s normal. In fact, that’s how it goes.
When it comes to muscle rebuilding and recovery, your friends most likely advised you to stock up on protein. It helps rebuild your muscles and recover from training. That’s true. However, there is an easier and cheaper alternative to this: Sleep.
As you visit dreamland, your body starts to pull all the nutrients your body has absorbed during the day and uses it to rebuild and repair damaged muscle tissue. At the same time, you will need extra sleep, usually an hour longer than the recommended number of hours prescribed by experts, because you need more time for your body to recover.
How Ever, You Need To Be In Deep Sleep To Enjoy This, Which Leads To The Next Benefit
2. Sleep Encourages Non-REM Sleep
There are two stages of sleep: rapid eye movement or REM sleep and non-REM sleep. REM sleep usually happens 90 minutes after you fall asleep. The first stage of REM sleep lasts for 10 minutes and gradually gets longer, with the final stage lasting about an hour. However, this is not yet deep sleep because your brain is still active.
On the other hand, non-REM sleep is stage wherein your body gets ready for deep sleep. During the first two stages of this type of sleep, it may be easy for you to wake up because your body is slowly entering deep sleep.
During the deep sleep stage, your body starts to work wonders. It repairs damaged tissues, strengthens your immune system and builds bones and muscles, among others.
Getting enough sleep encourages the release of growth hormones, which stimulates NREM-sleep. Being an athlete means a change in the sleep architecture due to training and workouts.
This will reduce the stress hormone from taking over your body and stop them from promoting REM sleep. As soon as you shut your eyes, you will experience less REM, thereby allowing your body to repair.
3. Sleep Helps Produce More Growth Hormones
Have you heard of growth hormones or GH? As the name suggests, it is a type of hormone, which helps you grow. Aside from your testosterone, growth hormones help build bigger and stronger biceps. They also help to promote fat loss, increase calcium retention to maintain bone mass and reduce fat storage. GH also keeps your organs operate smoothly and supports your immune system to make sure you won’t get sick.
In Other Words, It Is An Important Component That Could Help You In Your Athletic Performance
The pituitary gland in the brain produces growth hormones. However, the gland does not release this hormone continuously. This means it needs a trigger, so your body can get enough of a supply. How do you trigger the release of growth hormones? Through sleep.
While you are sleeping, your brain releases growth hormones into the bloodstream to help build bones and repair muscles, among others. In fact, it is part of the repair and restoration function of sleep.
Hence, a lack of sleep means no surge of growth hormones, which could affect your performance the following day.
4. Sleep Allows You To Perform Well In The Game
Fact: Better and longer sleep improves your athletic performance. The question is how does it do that? You already know that getting enough sleep helps your body recover. It is also a good time for the pituitary gland to release growth hormones and work its magic. When you combine these two, you get a significant improvement in your performance.
This is because you experience less fatigue and exhaustion, because you allow your body to take a rest. This could lead to better and more energized moods, something you can benefit from during the game or while training.
Take the case of the Stanford University basketball team. A group of researchers tracked the team and asked the players to add two hours more of sleep every night. It resulted in an increase in speed by five percent, better free throw accuracy by nine percent, and better and faster reflexes. Additional hours of sleep also made the players feel much happier.
5. Sleep Rewires Your Brain
If you think only your body benefits from training, then you are mistaken. Even your brain is training, which is why it is important to keep it working. The good news is, adding extra hour rewires your brain, and that could help improve your athletic performance.
How Is That Possible?
In training, you learn new skills and moves that you can use during the game. It solidifies your muscle memory and helps improve your cognitive memory.
Therefore, you need new brain cells to help you remember those skills. However, it takes time before your brain cells will develop and become fully functional. You need sleep to make it happen.
The development of these brain cells happens during sleep. Once the brain cells develop and became friends with each other, it helps you with your memory, so you will remember what you learned.
6. Sleep Reduces Your Stress Levels
Stress is among the killers that can put your health and athletic performance at risk. It also releases cortisol, a stress hormone that disrupts the balance of your body. According to a number of studies, getting enough sleep lowers and prevents cortisol from taking over your body. As a result, you lower your risk against low energy, fatigue and poor focus, especially during game time.
Aside from this, it could also slow down your recovery after a game, something you need, especially when you have a game the following day. Being on the active side doesn’t mean you have nothing else to do except build muscles. Aside from training, you also juggle different but equally important activities that could boost your stress levels. By getting enough sleep, you can say goodbye to stress and experience an improvement in your moods. This could help you manage your busy day easier and with less stress.
Tips For Better Sleep
You already know that visiting dreamland has many benefits. If you are an athlete or an active person, getting enough amount of sleep could do a lot for improving your performance and fitness level. The next question now is, how do you get an ample supply of shuteye to enjoy all of these benefits?
Here Are Simple Tips To Help You Sleep Better
- Sleep On A Regular Schedule. It might seem weird to teach yourself to sleep, since it’s a natural process, right? But, if you want to get enough rest at night, you need to train yourself to sleep and wake up on a certain time everyday.
- Reduce Alcohol And Caffeine Intake. Whether you have a game or it is training day the following day, cut back on alcohol and caffeine consumption. While a trip to Starbucks or one round of beer is tempting, these drinks disrupt your sleep and keep you awake longer. If you can’t say no to them, then at least limit it to one drink a day.
- Stay Away From Sleeping Pills. Ironically, sleep medications disturb the quality of your sleep. In effect, it affects your performance in a negative way. If you are having a hard time sleeping, try natural sleeping techniques, such as listening to a soothing music, deep breathing or taking a warm bath.
- Keep Distractions. Your bedroom is designed for two activities: sleeping and having sex. For better sleep, turn off the television, put away your phone and tablets, shut down your laptop, and just focus on putting yourself to sleep.
In other words, get enough sleep, as much as you can. Social activities could get in the way, but try your best to maintain a regular sleeping schedule, especially during the season.
If you want to improve in your chosen sport and make sure you give all your best every single game, then make it a point to visit dreamland every single night.
You May Be A Superman, But Even Heroes Need To Rest Too, Don’t You Think?
- Allow Your Body To Adjust To A New Setting. If you have a game in another state, it is advisable to go there a few days early to allow your body to adjust. This will help you attain a normal sleep schedule and reduce the possibility of affecting your performance.
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