Athletes and Sleep Problems

Whenever there is a major sports event, it is normal for competing athletes to experience emotional stress and sleep problems especially when it is their first time and living in a very big and busy athlete’s village environment. Sleep is a necessity for them. Prolonged poor sleep may have a negative impact on their performance, recovery, and health.

How Much Sleep is Enough for Athletes?

Sleep is essential for repair and restoration. It is our ultimate energiser. While you are having a good sleep, your metabolism slows down. Your breathing, digestion, heart rate, and movements are decreased so that your energy needs are much lower.

Most people need about 7-9 hours of sleep at night. But if you’re an athlete in training, you may need extra sleep time. Athletes push their body in practice, hence they need more time to recover. Athletes in training should sleep about an hour more. You can go to sleep earlier or take an afternoon nap.

More sleep has shown to be a factor for less injury. A study of middle school and high school athletes suggests that sleep may be important in injury prevention amongst teen athletes.

Adverse Effects of Sleep Problems

Poor sleep has become a major health issue in the modern society. Impaired sleep can negatively affect physical and psychological well-being. Furthermore, insufficient sleep can contribute to functional impairments.

Prolonged poor sleep may negatively affect performance, recovery, and health. It makes people slower, weaker, and less coordinated. It reduces the effectiveness of workouts and sometimes reverses their benefits.

Poor quality and quantity of sleep can compromise tissue regeneration, diminish immune and hormonal functioning, decrease effective cognitive processing, and increase fatigue and predisposition to injury.

A study is linking sleep loss with immune and inflammatory systems. It was found that lack of sleep promotes proinflammatory state, which, in turn, affects insulin resistance and immune function, increasing risks for heart disease and other chronic diseases.

Getting Good Sleep

When a major sporting event is approaching, it is not easy for competing athletes to get a good sleep if they’re in an environment that is completely different, which is why they’re being encouraged to minimise impact to their normal routines and bring on ear plugs and eye masks.

There are some helpful measures that can get you a good night’s sleep. These include the following:

•    Use curtains to keep the room sufficiently dark, but not so dark that you cannot see where you are going.

•    Use extra blankets so you can control temperature during the night.

•    Intrusive noise events such as banging doors can be solved by masking with background noise, like a fan or sound machine.

•    Set routine of getting ready for bed such as brushing teeth, face washing and alarm setting. They notify the brain that it is time to sleep.

•    A small snack of protein, calcium, and carbohydrate can promote sleep. Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
Evidence-based recommendations for optimising sleep include regular exercise and relaxation. These can be addressed by physiotherapists together with other lifestyle risk factors associated with sleeplessness.

Need help in getting a good night’s sleep?

Our Perth physiotherapists can help. Call us today at 9272 7359