How does sleep affect performance in your sport?

It’s no secret that lack of sleep makes us feel sluggish, under par and generally less alert when performing day-to-day activities. It stands to reason then that a lack of sleep will affect sports performance and that athletes will not perform at their optimum if fatigued.

Sleep deprivation before a competition is a common issue for athletes, as stress, anxiety, unfavourable sleeping conditions and even jet lag may come in to play, especially if an event is taking place far from home. Recent studies illustrated just why getting proper rest is an essential and how being tired can affect sportsmen in multiple ways.

Impact on Physical Demands

All sports are demanding physically, and a lack of sleep can affect performance in a major way. If an athlete is tired, they will be less competent physically and be unable to move at the same speed, draw on the same strength or exhibit the same amount of endurance.

Being tired in a competition is a major issue, but so too is being fatigued in practice. Whether doing field hockey drills such as those outlined at or grappling with a partner in the dojo, the athlete who is the most tired will almost always fall behind. Lack of sleep can wreak havoc with performance and can also change the outcome of a match or game considerably. Often in international games you’ll notice that the visiting team struggles a bit, and this may very well come down to not having slept well.

A Mental Issue

Many athletes will tell you that a good sports performance is often also related to mental strength. Tests show that if you are tired, your brain cannot function as fast, which means that your reaction times are reduced and you may lose a bit of your usual coordination or strength.

Being tired mentally can also take its toll on willpower, on perseverance and on stamina. If you’re tired, the will to be the best or to win may be somewhat depleted. Tired athletes often become almost despondent and do not deliver their expected performance simply because their brain and body are fatigued and they are craving sleep.

It’s easy to see that a good night’s sleep is essential for sportsmen and that being fatigued does no one any favours.

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