Why pro athletes care so much about sleep – and why you should too

| April 9, 2013 | 1 Comment
Photo by RelaxingMusic via Flickr

Photo by RelaxingMusic via Flickr

Did you know that some high performing professional athletes get up to 12 hours sleep a night?

Usain Bolt, widely regarded as the fastest sprinter on the planet, gives part of the reason when he says that “sleep is extremely important to me – I need to rest and recover in order for the training I do to be absorbed by my body.”

And Roger Federer, professional tennis player, says, “If I don’t sleep 11 to 12 hours a day, it’s not right.” (Keep reading for a brilliant infographic on this topic.)

The secret power of optimal sleep for peak athletic performance

We all know that we need a good night’s sleep to be healthy, but did you know that not getting enough sleep could actually be holding back your athletic potential?

Multiple gold-winning Olympic swimmer, Michael Phelps, said “eat, sleep, and swim, that’s all I can do”. And he doesn’t mean that eating and swimming is all he can do in-between sleep, as if sleep was some kind of inconvenience; no, sleep is one of his top strategic priorities.

It has a lot to do with recovery. The body needs enough time spent in deep sleep to rebuild and repair the tissues. If it gets to complete this task each night without interruption, then your body is that little bit more prepared the next day for the next batch of training.

Doing this consistently night after night is what some professional athletes believe to be their secret weapon. Once you’re already at the top of your game, leveraging this silent power of sleep is the perfect competitive advantage.

Fortunately, you don’t have to wait until you’re at the top of your class before trying some of their tricks. You could start sleeping like a professional tonight.

Winners sleep, losers weep

So, how much should you be sleeping? ‘A little bit more’ is probably the best answer. The average person sleeps only 6 hours and 44 minutes, but you should be aiming for at least 8 good hours each night if you want to dance at your best.

While you may not need to copy Roger Federer’s 12 hour sleeps, many high performance athletes average around 8 to 10 hours, so depending on the mental and athletic demands of your day, you‘ll have to experiment with what works best for you.

Have a look at this fantastic infographic for more sleep stats and quotes on how you can sleep to be an all-star (click on the image to see the full-sized infographic created by Zeo).

zeo-all-star-sleep-infographicHow many hours sleep do you get per night? Have you found that a good or bad night’s rest has affected your performance?

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Category: Body

About the Author ()

Hi, I'm Robynn, and I'm a student of the potential of the body, the marvels of the mind, and the beauty of it all combined in ballet. As the editor, BodyMindBallet is where I get to learn, to share and to enjoy this wide world of dance - and with every day I gain an ever richer respect for the athleticism of dance and the skill of performance artistry.

Comments (1)

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  1. saira says:

    I always knew that sleep is very important even if you are not an athlete. I find even after training hard my body just wants more sleep. Having to get up for work with only 7-8 hours of sleep is very hard – Body just wants more sleep. But on weekends when I get to sleep 11-12 hours my training is more intense and I have more energy and I crave less food. Sleep is the Key!

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