5 Areas of Sleep Have the Greatest Impact on Athletic Performance


While athletic capability is primarily dependent on training and diet, getting enough sleep can greatly help to improve performance. But why is sleep necessary for great athletic performance? Well, just like the body demands more calories to provide energy for sports or other physical activities, it also needs more sleep. Due to the heavy physical activities, the body tissues and muscles are under excessive pressure, which end up hurting them. The body needs quality sleep because it repairs and restores itself best during slumber.

Sleep is crucial not only for body repair but also for boosting performance. The amount of sleep you need depends on your genes and the amount of physical activity that you involve yourself in. Below are some of the areas that sleep has the greatest impact on when it comes to athletic performance:

Injury incidents

Insufficient sleep has been associated with higher rates of injuries in athletic competitions. According to a study by the University of California, it was observed that youth athletes registered higher injury rates after a night of less than six hours of sleep. Another study that was focusing on injury rates among high school athletes led to findings that sleep hours were the highest predictor of injuries and even surpassed hours of practice. Sleep also affects recovery, thus sleep deprivation keeps athletes away from the pitch due to slower recovery as well as through sports-related injuries.

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Accuracy and speed

The accuracy of shooting and sprint times among basketball players has been observed to depend on the quality of sleep. Good sleep has also been credited with improved athletic performance in swimmers, tennis players, weight lifters, and others. The improvement in accuracy and speed among basketball players was observed in a sleep extension study at Stanford University where participants demonstrated faster-timed sprints after extending sleep hours. Shooting accuracy was also improved.

Improved intensity

Those athletes who manage to get at least nine hours of sleep a night have a higher likelihood of performing better in higher-intensity workouts. Such exercises include weight lifting, running, and biking. The reason for improved performance in high-intensity actions is because the athletes have more energy to do physical activities.

Reaction time

Lack of sleep has an impact on an athlete’s reaction time in the same way as alcohol or even much more, and this can greatly affect athletes’ performance in their games. Elite athletes are affected to an extent of not managing a split second to react to things happening in front of their eyes. It has been observed that an athlete’s reaction time can be reduced by over 300% by a single all-nighter and it can take several days to recover from the sleep deprivation.

Enhanced Coordination

Athletes are in a better position to consolidate memories connected to motor skills by getting sufficient sleep. Sleep also plays a critical role in strengthening recall connected to body movements. If you want to be in a position to repeat the perfect tennis backhand you mastered from the previous day’s training, or to perfect your skills when changing gears as you cycle, get enough sleep. Quality sleep is necessary for good coordination in the same way that training is.


Sleep is critical when it comes to athletic performance. It is just as necessary as training and diet. Some of the areas that sleep has great impact on with regard to performance of sportsmen include rate of injuries and recovery, accuracy and speed of sprinting among basketball players and others, and improvement intensity due to better energy levels. Sleep also affect athletes’ reactions as they play or train and improves the ability to coordinate properly as well as recall body movements.


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