Sleep And Recovery For Athletes

Why Sleep Is Key In Letting Both Mind And Body Recover For Athletes And Non-Athletes Alike

United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee Senior Sport Psychophysiologist Lindsay Shaw recently sat down for an online Q&A with Paralympic swimming gold medalist Mallory Weggemann and Olympic BMX racing gold medalist Connor Fields to discuss how sleep impacts elite athletes.

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Sleep & Elite Athletic Performance

Sleep is increasingly recognized as a performance and recovery tool among athletes, as well as coaches and the health care providers who support their performance.

  • Elite football players slept on average 157 minutes less after nighttime matches than after daytime matches and 181 minutes less than after a training day.
  • Paradoxically, many athletes appear to be sleeping less during intense workloads when they need sleep most. 
  • In another study, increased total sleep time was associated with higher perception of recovery after training or competition
  • Those sleeping fewer than 8 hours per night are 1.7 times likelier to sustain injury than those who sleep more than 8 hours
  • Collegiate basketball players allowed to sleep up to 10 hours per day (mean = 8.5 hours/night) over 7 weeks had increased sprint speed and shooting accuracy.
  • Performance anxiety is common; more than 60% of athletes reported insomnia the night before competition.

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