A good night's rest is critical to an athlete's recovery, muscle development, and overall performance. Sleep is an essential need that humans cannot live without and is a dynamic indicator of our overall health and wellbeing. The average person will spend one-third of their lives sleeping, and while many well known business leaders, such as Elon Musk, believe sleep is a waste of time, it does play a direct role in how successful an athlete will be in the remaining two-thirds of their lives.
There are five phases of sleep. Studies conducted by the National Sleep Foundation have shown that during phases 3 and 4, tissue repair and muscle development occur. The fifth phase of sleep, also known as REM sleep, has been found to boost energy levels in the brain and the body. Scientists recommend elite level athletes should get between 6-8 hours of sleep per night to improve their mood, performance, concentration, muscle recovery, consolidate memory, and it allows the body time to release hormones that regulate muscle growth. If sleep is cut short, your performance will not be at a subprime level.
Athletes who experience sleep deprivation, encounter increased levels of stress due to the release of Cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that decreases the production of glycogen and carbohydrates (which is stored for energy used in exercising). Less sleep equals fatigue, and poor focus which results in the body's recovery process being slowed down drastically.
As a Student-Athlete, there are clear benefits when accomplishing 6 to 8 hours of sleep. You will have more energy to perform in the classroom and on the sports field. Many world class athletes will tell you that getting enough sleep is like training, it takes a huge amount of commitment keep. “Sleep is extremely important to me – I need to rest and recover from the training I do...” – Usain Bolt
So, as a prospective student-athlete who wants to compete at the highest level in the USA, it is important for you to find a balance between studies, training, and sleep. The benefits of being well rested will undoubtedly help you succeed both in the classroom and on the sports field.