With the busy schedules we all keep today, combined with the myriad of things grabbing our attention throughout the day and often times late into the night, getting enough sleep is often over looked and neglected as a wrestler or athlete is training and even competing. Getting more sleep can often be the performance "Game Changer" all wrestlers and athletes are looking for.
There is much evidence to support this "more sleep - increased performance equation", including a study done more than 10 years ago by a Stanford University researcher named Cheri Mah. The athletes she was working with all reported significant increases in performance when they increased their sleep to 10 hours per night. It's not hard to understand the opposite of this that sleep deprivation can lead to declines in physical performance.Why is Getting Enough Sleep Important?
Getting enough sleep increases a host of things including increased; focus, stamina, strength, muscle growth and regeneration to name a few. This is what happens while we sleep. Important hormones are released that are only triggered by darkness and light intervals over alternating 24 hour periods regulated by our bodies "internal clock". You know what I'm talking about. When this rhythm is working the way it should, we feel rested and we don't need an alarm clock - we just wake up on cue every morning ready to go. The part of sleep that I am talking about here is REM (or deep sleep) and for at least 6 continuous, uninterrupted hours. That means no waking up or going to the bathroom. So blinds closed with no light or waking up for all of the 10 hours.
When we mess with these rhythms by not getting enough sleep, our metabolism of glucose (which gives us energy) declines, and our level of cortisol (which causes stress) increases. Less Energy - More Stress is an equation for athletic disaster. The longer we are not in the proper sleep rhythm the greater likelihood for diminished athletic performance, not to mention decreased concentration, focus and increased likelihood of injury.
Getting 10 hours of sleep in the proper cycles is naturally anabolic, meaning during deep REM sleep, our bodies release growth hormone, which stimulates the healing and growth of muscle and bone. Sleep benefits can also come in short intervals when we doze off into a deep sleep for 15-20 minutes, sometimes called "power naps". When we awake from one of these short naps
we usually feel refreshed and ready to go. Sleep in these two ways, the long 10 hours at night and the power naps, helps the body in several ways: First, it boosts areas of performance that require top-notch cognitive function, like reaction time and hand-eye coordination. Second, it aids recovery from tough matches, games and workouts. Both of these sleep benefits covers all sports.The Importance of Sleep has Been Known for Years
Coaches and athletes have known about the importance of sleep for years and many professional sports teams have consulted experts in this area, including Dr. Charles Czeisler, director of the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, for advice and guidance in the area of sleep and athletic performance.
The U.S. Olympic Committee began taking the issue of adequate sleep seriously in 2005, when it consulted with sleep specialist Mark Rosekind, a former NASA scientist, to help redo rooms at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs and at the 2006 Torino Olympics. Out went twin beds; in came plush-top mattresses, blackout curtains, thermostats set to cool temperatures and reliable alarm clocks. Rosekind and his colleagues pushed for the Olympians to get nine to 10 hours of sleep a night, not the five to seven most young adults manage. "People need to be as smart about sleep" Rosekind once said, "as they are about diet and exercise."
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