Many of the world’s greatest athletes eat, sleep, breathe, and live for their sport, but in addition to physical conditioning and conscious eating, sleep plays a major role in athletic performance and competitive results. The quality and amount of sleep athletes get is often the key to winning. Sleep in particular provides energy to both the brain and body. If sleep is cut short, the body doesn’t have time to repair memory, consolidate memory, and release hormones.
Sleep deprivation increases levels of stress hormone, cortisol. Sleep deprivation has also been seen to decrease production of glycogen and carbohydrates that are stored for energy use during physical activity. In short, less sleep increases the possibility of fatigue, low energy, and poor focus at game time. It may also slow recovery post-game.
Whether you’re at the top of your game or in the game for the fun of it, getting the proper amount of sleep is necessary. Sleep will help you on the road to good fitness, good eating, and good health. Sleep problems are a serious issue for professional athletes, whose intense training, rigorous schedules, and frequent travel across time zones put them at high risk for disrupted and insufficient sleep. Pro athletes crisscrossing the country, often flying overnight before waking up to an early-morning practice or next-day game, share risks for sleep problems, are at higher risk for sleep disorders such as insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea. They also can be at elevated risk for health problems associated with poor sleep, including obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
The cognitive benefits of sleep translate onto the field. Memory, learning, reaction time and focus: Sleep is critical to the brain’s ability to perform these mental tasks efficiently and well. The brain uses sleep to consolidate memory into longer-term knowledge, clearing the area of the brain used for short-term memory in preparation to absorb new information. During sleep, the brain also works to prioritize the information it thinks will be important in the future. Sleep deprivation has well-studied negative effects on reaction times — and even a single night of sleep deprivation can slow quick response times.
(Article by renowned Sports Physiotherapist, Dr. Manish Deepak Pardeshi)
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