How sleep affects your athletic performance

When it comes to athletic performance whether you are an elite athlete or a first timer in the gym, increasing your performance in the gym is always the goal.


One of the first things we think of that impacts athletic performance is nutrition. Whilst nutrition is very important and does have an immense impact on your performance, only having good nutrition isn’t enough and won’t have the same impact as adequate nutrition and an adequate sleep schedule.

Australian Athlete

Sleep deprivation or an inadequate sleep schedule is simply when someone is not getting enough sleep or enough quality sleep.

An adequate amount of sleep for adults is 7-8 hours a night and anything less than 6 hours may be considered sleep deprivation.


Sleep deprivation has been linked to various declines in athletic performance both physically and mentally.


When it comes to the mental aspects of athletic performance it is vital the athletes are able to think fast and completely focus and concentrate on the task at hand.

When they haven’t had enough quality sleep their brain is not able to repair or consolidate memory, which can affect players decision making during a game.


Their focus and ability to have sharp reactions are also compromised which can be the difference between an athlete preventing an injury or them not being able to react in time to brace correctly resulting in a serious injury.

Physically the body will fatigue faster as well as your using more energy to concentrate and your body is working in overtime with a low battery, which can also result in injury and of course, poor performance.


Sleep deprivation can also reduce speed and strength.

How? Well, when we sleep our cells regenerate (repair and grow) and therefore, rebuild torn and fatigued muscles.

When muscles don’t recover they aren’t able to provide the strength needed to perform at their best. The muscles physically could not generate the same amount of energy and force used to perform the exercise at the same level.


Lack of sleep also affects the body’s immune system.

Studies show that people who don’t get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, such as a common cold virus.

This will decrease your athletic performance as you won’t be able to engage in training or compete when you are ill. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick. Again, a negative for your performance


If you’re looking at improving your nutrition think about your sleep schedule to maximize your athletic potential and don’t risk putting yourself at risk for a bad performance and even worse, a serious injury.


For more information about improving athletic performance, have a look at our blog post on fueling running vs strength training

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