Traveling to different places, early morning training sessions, late evening competitions, and stress can cause sleep disturbances in athletes affecting their performance.
A sound sleep is critical to athletic performance. An athlete undergoing training requires more amount of sleep just as the need for added calories. Sleep is that crucial time when the body undergoes repair and recovery. While training, the body is pushing hard and hence requires about an extra hour of sleep to recover well.
Studies report the importance of sleep in improving speed, accuracy, and reaction time in athletes. A research study tracked the basketball team players who added nearly two hours of sleep every night to their daily routine. The results were amazing; their speed increased by almost 5% while the accuracy of free hits was 9% more with quicker reflexes.
Athletes need to follow a sleep schedule devotedly. A fixed time to go to bed is essential. In the case of sports events which require traveling, arriving at the venue two days before the event can help you adjust better, manage routine, and perform well. Avoiding the use of substances like caffeine, alcohol, which makes the brain alert and hampers sleep can help as well.
Individually athletes can choose a bedtime ritual for winding up like a warm bath which has a relaxing & soothing effect on the body & mind and helps in attaining a night of sound sleep. A small session of recuperative yoga or deep breathing exercises puts the mind at ease, steadies breathing helping you doze off. Another option can be a short phase of meditation or listening to soothing music which tranquilizes and prepares the brain for a sound sleep. A bedtime ritual of winding up the day and calming down plays an important role.
Creating a gloomy atmosphere by turning off unnecessary lighting induces sleep; too much light can suppress melatonin, the sleep hormone, the one which makes us feel sleepy. It helps the body for transition from an alert state to sleep.
Finally, some herbal supplements which relax the body & mind and aid in a peaceful sleep may be consumed under medical advice.