It is widely accepted that regular training and proper nutrition are both crucial to the progress of an athlete. Equally as important, though sometimes overlooked, is the need for recovery time from strenuous workouts. Although we do not yet know everything there is to know about sleep, studies have shown that sleep is essential for cellular regeneration and repairing muscle damage incurred by exercise. We take a look at how sleep can directly impact on athletic performance; 

Reaction Speed

For athletes at the top of their game, reaction times are key to staying ahead and avoiding accidents. Research on this has shown that moderate sleep deprivation can impair both cognitive and motor performance, producing similar effects to those of alcohol intoxication, which is less than ideal for anyone in training. Though not a muscular problem, the physiological effect of sleep deprivation can have disastrous consequences for athletes as it can take weeks to catch up on a sleep debt. NBA star Lebron James reportedly sleeps for 12 hours every night to help combat this.


If an athlete’s reaction time is impaired, the chances of injuries are much higher. Studies have shown that injury rates increase where players slept for less than 6 hours the night before, as their reaction times were much slower and their muscles had not had a chance to repair properly from the day before. Lack of sleep can also impact on the immune system and its ability to fight off illnesses, meaning that getting enough sleep is crucial to optimum health.

Length of Career

Fewer injuries mean a longer career! Two new studies show that an athlete’s level of fatigue can predict the longevity in their career. Taking data from Major League Baseball teams, the results contradict the conventional wisdom that skills improve over the course of a season through repetition and practice. In fact, their skills decreased as the season progressed due to fatigue. Interestingly, this means that it is possible to use the science of sleep to predict sports performances.


Other research has confirmed that an increase in sleep of approximately 2 hours per night can significantly increase athletic accuracy. Tennis players were monitored on their serves over the course of one week, in which they had their standard amount of sleep. The following week they increased their sleep by 2 hours, which improved the accuracy of their serves from 35.7% to 41.8%.

Using a sleep system such as the REM-Fit Sleep 400 Mattress and Monitor gives you control over your recovery time by allowing you to observe your sleep data to make the most of your rest. Understanding your sleep will help you to identify potential adjustments, intensify your recovery and enhance your performance.

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