The Power of Sleep

There is always plenty of talk about the importance of nutrition and strength training when it comes to being a better athlete but many times sleep is overlooked and yet it is equally important.  Here are five ways sleep affects athletic performance:

1. Improved reaction times

Studies show that sleep deprivation greatly impacts reaction time.  If you want to go out on the mat and be ready for a night of hard training, you need to be able to stay frosty on your toes and react quickly to any situation your sparring partner throws at you.  If you pull just one all-nighter your reaction time is similar to what it would be if you drank four beers.

2. Reduced Injury Rates, Improved Overall Health

A study looking at injury rates and sleep deprivation showed that it was an even better indicator of injury than practice hours.  This is the case because fatigue from shortened sleep causes a slower reaction time, a weaker immune system, and a body that cannot recover properly from strenuous practice and workouts, all of which play a part in forcing athletes to take time off from training.

3. Longer Training Careers

If you want to train for longevity, getting enough sleep is crucial to keeping your body as healthy and recovered as possibly.  It will help you continue training for the long run and performing at your best.

4. Better Accuracy

Sleep is crucial to the body’s physiological, biochemical, and cognitive restoration.  Studies done on sports such as basketball, tennis, swimming, and weightlifting, all show that if the athlete gets an optimal amount of sleep, their accuracy is at its absolute best (which is also key in Jiu Jitsu).

5. Fewer Mental Errors

It has been show that lack of sleep impairs judgement, motivation, focus, memory, and learning.  All of these things are extremely important when training Jiu Jitsu.  It is such a mental sport, and if your mind is not there you will not retain what you have learned well and you will not be able to focus in class or make the best tactical decisions while rolling.

Sleep is important for everyone, but even more so for those who train such a physically and mentally demanding sport as Jiu Jitsu.  Try it for yourself and reap the benefits of getting the sleep your body needs and see the difference it makes in your performance.

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