Sleep is a big part of sports performance, and a lack of it is the most significant predictor of sports injury and performance. Athletes who are sleep-deprived have a much greater chance of getting injured, have lower attainment, and will feel the effects of poor sleep long after their competition has finished. Sleep is one of the most crucial aspects of a healthy lifestyle. Sleep is like a “reset” button for our bodies. Everyone knows that a lack of sleep can increase stress levels, which can cause us to be irritable and less productive. It’s also well known that you start making poor decisions when you don’t get enough sleep, like overeating.
What Is Sleep Deprivation
There are two types of sleep deprivation, short-term and long-term. Short-term sleep deprivation is when a person is kept awake for 24 hours or longer. Short-term sleep deprivation will only affect a person’s mental ability and physical capabilities. On the other hand, long-term sleep deprivation can affect the user’s physical and mental capabilities. This longer-term issue is found in people who chronically don’t get enough sleep. However, both are equally bad, especially when it comes to sports performance. However, there are some severe downsides for basketball players whose lack of sleep causes them to play poorly.
Importance of Sleep In Basketball
Basketball is a very fast-paced sport, as you’d expect. To be the best team possible, players must practice daily, which is why all of them need to get enough sleep. Without sleep, players may not be as alert, and their skills may not be as sharp. Sleep also helps build muscle and repair the body, and if players are getting enough of it, they will be at their best.
The human body is a remarkable machine that keeps us going despite everything we throw at it. However, after a few too many nights of tossing and turning, the body can start to break down. That’s because sleep deprivation can cause the body to react to stress by releasing a compound called cortisol. Cortisol is one of the most well-known hormones in the body, and though it serves many vital functions, it can also be responsible for weight gain. Once an athlete gets into this cycle, it can become challenging to lose the additional weight.
Reduces Mental Sharpness
Research on sleep deprivation has shown that it reduces mental sharpness and cognitive function. A recent study in The Journal of Physiology found that sleep-deprived people performed worse on a wide range of tests than those who were well-rested. This can cause severe issues in a game like basketball, where strategy is crucial, and losing your edge could result in catastrophe for your team.
Reduced Problem Solving
People who are sleep-deprived often go through life’s daily activities with half of their brains at work. They cannot plan and make decisions independently because their sleep-deprived brain can’t keep up with the demands of the tasks at hand. Furthermore, two nights of sleep deprivation leads to an impairment in thinking and planning, which is consistent with research on sleep loss. Research suggests a close relationship between the brain and the body and that a brief period of sleep deprivation can cause measurable changes in brain function. When you are in a high-intensity sport, this lack of problem-solving will be highly detrimental.
Poor Coordination And Reflexes
Sleep deprivation causes poor judgment, impaired learning, and even hallucinations. The combination of these aspects will result in a terrible athletic performance, and it is that simple. Moreover, in a sport such as basketball, your reflexes are vital to be able to have a competitive edge over the competition. Therefore you will be severely limiting your abilities by not getting enough sleep.
You Stop Being a Team Player
Basketball is all about teamwork; it is a team sport, after all. However, those who fail to get enough high-quality sleep to become irritable and, in some cases, anti-social. Sleep deprivation can cause irritability and make it difficult to cope. In a study conducted by the University of Oxford, which involved 90 volunteers, the participants were instructed to stay up until they fell asleep or were woken up by a noise. Those who were woken up by noise were found to be more irritable after their sleep-deprived stint.
How Much Should an Elite Athlete Sleep?
As a result of pushing their bodies harder than the average person, an elite athlete like a basketball player must aim for between 8-10 hours of quality sleep. This sleep must be sound and cycle through all of the stages that encompass it. This means cycling from deep sleep to Rapid Eye Movement (REM) rest throughout the night. If you are unaware of when you need to sleep or wake up to get to this stage, you can use a sleep calculator to figure it out for you. This will give you an excellent overview of how many hours are required to get enough deep sleep to keep your performance in prime condition and your health at peak physical fitness. Once you know how much you need to be resting, you can begin to find methods to enable you to get into the correct state.
How To Before Bed
IT can be tricky to fall asleep peacefully when you are anticipating a big game. Nevertheless, there are some methods that people do this, such as:
• Reduce the amount of blue light at night
• Reduce caffeine consumption after 4 pm
• Create a sleep-wake routine and stick to it
• Stay away from alcohol (your coach has probably already ordered this)
• Get the correct room temperature
• Take a calming bath
Your coach may have already ordered some of these items, but it is still worth considering because they will improve your sleep quality.
Sports enthusiasts have always known that exercise and healthy eating aren’t enough to get the body in top shape. A correct amount of sleep is also a must-do to reach peak performance. Without it, your performance will degrade substantially, which could even jeopardize your career.