How a Better Bedtime Routine Could Improve Your Athletic Performance

Live Healthy

News that Hawaii ranks as the most sleep-deprived state in the nation may not come as a surprise to most residents of the Aloha State.

However, you may be surprised to learn how many components of life are negatively impacted by continued lack of sleep.

“Insufficient amounts of sleep negatively affect cognitive function, learning, memorization, reaction time, auditory awareness and mood. Lack of quality sleep also affects metabolism, hormonal function and how individuals perceive exhaustion,” says Dr. Valerie Cacho, medical director of sleep medicine at Straub Medical Center.

Many studies have shown that sleep deprivation negatively impacts physical and cognitive function.

More recently, a study at Stanford’s Sleep Disorder Clinic and Research Laboratory looked specifically at the impact of sleep quality on Stanford student-athletes.

The study explored the negative effects of poor quality sleep on mental function, physical ability and overall sports performance.

Researchers reported that many student-athletes were not getting good quality sleep, with the following findings:

  • 42% experienced poor sleep quality.

  • 40% met the standard sleep recommendation of 7 hours or more per night.

  • 51% felt excessively sleepy during the day.

Don't just dream about upping your game on the field or the court! A better night’s sleep may just be the key to reaching your athletic ambitions.

According to experts, this high prevalence of poor sleep, lack of sleep and daytime sleepiness reveals the major problems that poor sleep quality has on sports performances in athletic programs.

“The implications of poor sleep can include increased risk of injury, mental or emotional distress, and decreased overall athletic performance,” Cacho says.

Additional studies have shown that sleeping for only 5-7 hours a week decreased reaction times and increased sleepiness during the day of student-athletes by 42%.

Collegiate tennis players who were originally sleep deprived had a 35.7% serving accuracy. However, they were able to improve their serving accuracy by 6.1% after getting more sleep.

Sleep-deprived basketball players who also were given more time to sleep showed improvement in athletic performance by achieving 0.7-second faster sprint times, 9% increase in free throw success, and 9% increase in making 3-point shots.

Cacho says studies such as these highlight the need for local athletes to get the recommended amount of sleep in order to optimize their performance.

“When coaches and athletes emphasize healthy sleep and recovery practices off the field, there can be significant gains on the field,” Cacho explains.

Wind down for bed with a relaxing ritual. This can include taking a few moments to meditate, listening to calm music or reading a book. 

Here, Cacho provides recommendations to getting a better night’s sleep:

  • Exercise during the day.

  • Refrain from caffeinated foods or drinks before bed.

  • Create a relaxing bedtime routine.

  • Clear your head by doing things that help you to relax (e.g., breathing exercises, listening to music, reading).

  • Have a good sleep environment (dark, cool, quiet).

  • Maintain a consistent bedtime and wake time.

  • Remove light and electronic devices from the bedroom before sleeping.

  • Expose yourself to bright sunlight in the morning.

If you have any questions or concerns, you can contact the Straub Sleep Medicine Department at 808-522-4448 or click here.



Published on: May 15, 2019