The Importance of Sleep for Athletes

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New research shows the role of sleep for peak performance.

Athletes Need Sleep. Runner.

If you’re an athlete — or the parent of one — you know frequent practice and the right equipment are important. But without proper sleep, a crucial component in achieving top performance is missing. 

According to the National Library of Medicine (via a study by Stanford, California-based Stanford University), men’s basketball players who extended their rest to 10 hours per night improved their physical and mental well-being and also performed better in half-court and full-court sprints, as well as free throws and three-point shots. Another study from the International Journal of Sports Medicine asked swimmers to increase their sleep to 10 hours per night. They experienced decreased daytime fatigue, improved turn times and reaction times off diving blocks. 

“Sleep has been called the greatest legal performance-enhancing drug in this modern day and age, and for good reason. Sleep is when our minds and bodies repair themselves,” says Dirk Stallmann, president of Milwaukee-based mattress manufacturer Verlo Mattress. “A well-rested athlete will enjoy greater strength and stamina than their unrested counterparts. And the opposite is also true — lack of sleep will leave an athlete weaker and impair their judgment much like alcohol consumption.” 

To help cultivate healthy habits and reap the benefits, Stallmann shares three tips for a better night’s sleep.

Create a sleep schedule — and stick to it

Going to bed and waking up the next morning at the same time every day might be daunting, but the benefits for sleep quality are tremendous. Avoid sleeping in on the weekends to catch up, as this will make it harder to get back into the groove when Monday rolls around. 

Choose a bedtime routine

There are many healthy ways to wind down for the evening, such as listening to music, lighting a candle or reading a book. Whichever way you prefer to get ready for bed, consistency is the most important part of any routine. This will help signal to your body that it’s time to sleep. Some people might find writing a to-do list for the next day helpful to
release the day and prepare for tomorrow, Stallmann adds. 

Eliminate light

Light sources — whether from overhead fixtures or screens like iPads or smartphones — signal to your brain that it’s time to be awake. Remove as many sources as possible to prepare for sleep. 


One’s Cup of Tea

Athletes Need Sleep and tea can help.

Teas have been proven to improve sleep. Consider gifting an assortment of teas to your customers as a show of gratitude. Or let them choose their favorite one to take home for a more personalized experience. Below, we share four delicious options. 

Chamomile

According to a recent article from the Better Sleep Council, the sedative effect of chamomile tea comes from a flavonoid called apigenin that induces a sleepy feeling.

Lavender

Lavender can reduce anxiety and stress and creates a feeling of calm to assist in a more solid night of sleep.  

Ashwagandha

As an adaptogen, ashwagandha helps reduce stress and anxiety levels, which is a good option for those who lie awake with worry at night.

Peppermint

Naturally caffeine-free, peppermint tea is full of antioxidants and acts as a muscle relaxant to aid relaxation.