When you’re an athlete, you know the importance of exercising regularly, eating healthy, and ensuring you get enough rest in between games, matches, events, or the next time you hit the gym. But what about the benefits of sleep on your athletic performance? Without getting the rest your body needs, you won’t perform at your best - mentally or physically.
The Benefits of Sleep for Athletes and Their Mental State
Athletes and non-athletes all need an adequate amount and quality of sleep for overall wellness. One of the big reasons is that when you sleep, your brain makes memories. The nerve endings within your brain work hard to process the previous days’ events and turn them into memories. When you don’t sleep enough, your brain doesn’t have the time to process that information.
If you’re an athlete, sleep is where your brain commits the drills and new athletic skills you practiced that day to memory. All the world practice won’t do you much good if you don’t get enough sleep. Sleep for athletes is also crucial for cognitive functioning. What does that mean? Well, it just means if you play a sport that requires decision making and adapting on the field or court, then you need enough sleep. If you don’t get the amount of sleep you need, you won’t be able to make those split-second decisions.
Lastly, and this goes for everyone, when you don’t sleep, you’re grumpy. (Duh.) But this grumpiness due to sleep deprivation has been proven to increase your risk of depression.
The Benefits of Sleep for Athletes and Their Performance
To say it simply: the more quality sleep an athlete gets, the better they perform. We’re not just making that up, though. There have been several scientific studies into sleep for athletes.
Better Overall Performance
- A study of male basketball players in 2011 revealed faster sprints, a 9% improvement in their shots, and an overall happier and healthier demeanor when they extended how many hours they slept at night to 10 hours.
- According to a similar study, when female and male swimmers slept for 10 hours per night, their reaction time off the diving blocks was 17% faster, improved their turn times, and how many times they kicked while performing increased. Again, they also felt happier and less fatigued after their workout.
- When tennis players increased their sleep to at least nine hours, they found their serves’ accuracy improved from 36% to 42% and, you guessed it, felt happier.
So how much sleep do athletes need? Well, it’s actually the same recommendation for the rest of us average Joes: seven to nine hours per night, But if you’re a super-active athlete or at the top of your game (pun intended), you should aim for at least nine hours of sleep every night. And if you have a big event coming up? It’s okay to get even more sleep at night leading up to the said event.
Optimal Time for Muscle Repairs
One of the most significant benefits of sleep for athletes who push their bodies to the limit is muscle repair. Not only is your brain working hard to make memories while you sleep, but your body also works hard to repair your muscles.
What does this mean for athletes? It means if you don’t get enough sleep, your muscles won’t have enough time to recover, which could lead to injury.
Strengthened Immune System
When you sleep, your immune system is doing anything but sleeping. While your eyes are closed, and you’re off in dreams-Ville, specific components of your immune system are revving up.
- Cytokines: The proteins in your body that help fight inflammation increase in production while you sleep.
- Antibodies: Your body’s natural infection-fighting system, antibodies, also increase in production while you sleep.
Bottom line, if you don’t get adequate sleep, you’ll be sore longer, you’ll set yourself up for injury, and you’ll be more susceptible to illness.
How a Weighted Blanket Can Help Athletic Performance
Weighted blankets alone won’t improve your sprint, serve accuracy or time off the starting block. They will help you sleep better. Weighted blankets have been proven to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer, allowing your brain and body to do what they need to do to improve your memory and muscle recovery.
See, when you snooze under an appropriately-sized weighted blanket for improved sleep, which is between 7-12% of your body weight, your body undergoes something fantastic. The hormones your body already produces to help you feel sleepy increase, and those that make you alert and stressed decrease. This magical process is called deep pressure stimulation.
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That alone sounds amazing, no?
Without getting too technical, let’s just say weighted blankets help you feel relaxed and prevent you from tossing and turning unnecessarily. And when that happens, you sleep longer, and you sleep better.
And when you sleep longer and better, well, just start reading this article from the beginning, and you’ll remember why more sleep for athletes is a good thing.
Athlete or Not, You Could Benefit From a Weighted Blanket
Yeah, we’ve been focusing on the benefits of sleep for athletes, but let’s face it. More quality sleep for anyone is a good thing. We don’t live under a rock. We know saying that and actually getting it are two different things.
But we know one thing that’ll help anyone, athletes, active individuals, and non-athletes alike. And that’s a weighted blanket.
Because weighted blankets help your body enter its natural sleep cycle more readily, there are absolutely no side effects either. And with Weighted Evolutions high-quality weighted blankets, you’ll experience the most optimal positive weighted blanket performance, and you’ll sleep under a blanket guaranteed to be non-toxic and highly-breathable.
Whether you’re an athlete or not, now’s the time to invest in better mental and physical health with the purchase of a weighted blanket. You’ve got nothing to lose other than a poor night’s sleep, bad muscle recovery, and a compromised immune system.