Sleep. We all know it’s important, yet so many of us fail to get enough. Gallup reports that more than 40% of Americans are not getting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Compare this to a mere 11% in 1942! This general reduction in sleep has not occurred without consequence. The sleepless epidemic has been shown to have a catastrophic effect on our health and our wellness. Although everyone should be focused on getting the proper amount of sleep, athletes and sports competitors should be the most concerned. Why? Two words: performance and recovery.
Lack of sleep has a direct impact on physical performance. Everything from peak muscle strength to peak running speed is significantly diminished the less sleep you get. Latic acid builds up quicker in muscle tissue, and the ability of the lungs to breathe in oxygen and expire carbon dioxide is also impaired by sleep deprivation. One study found that individuals who got 6 hours of sleep or less had their time to physical exhaustion fall by up to 30%!
Sleep is imperative for recovery. While asleep, the body undergoes various processes to replenish and repair damage accumulated during the day. This nightly restoration of the body is critical for muscle repair, cardiovascular health, and metabolism; all things that athletes are constantly trying to hack and improve.
The importance of sleep cannot be stressed enough. You will notice meaningful changes once you give your body what it needs. Sleep is not the third pillar of health next to diet and exercise; sleep is the foundation on which those other two rest upon. Though we have only scratched the surface of this topic, we hope you use this information and apply it to boost not only your performance, but overall health.