Sleep and Athletic Performance

A few weeks ago I blogged on sleep and its impact on weight. I then attended a sleep presentation given to the players at the 2012 Edmonton Oilers Player Development and thought I’d share how sleep also impacts athletic performance.

The speaker, Cheri Mah, affirmed that the average adult needs 7-9 hours of sleep per night whereas elite athletes actually require more in the range of 7-10 hours per night. She also highlighted what a profound impact sleep deprivation can have on sport training and performance.

Some of her take home messages included:

  • Try and make up (pay back) any sleep debt that you accumulate during the week. Getting a couple of good night’s sleep with few hours of extra sleep can counteract lack of sleep earlier in the week.
  • Maintain the same bedtime routine – over time your body will start to anticpate sleep
  • Sleep in a cave – our body prefers a cool dark place for sleeping
  • Avoid any screen time including TV’s, laptops, smart phones, etc 30 prior to sleep as the blue light emitted from those devices impacts melatonin release which decreases the quality of your sleep. YES that means NO TV in the bedroom!
  • Cut down on liquids 1 hour before bed to reduce the chance of waking up.
  • If you are generally thirsty, keep a glass of water by the bed for sipping if needed.
  • Avoid alcohol before bed as it can impact your REM sleep and you may wake up more tired on the same amount of sleep.
  • If you are taking a nap – keep it to 20-30 minutes otherwise you will slip into deeper cycles of sleep and can cause sleep inertia where you won’t feel as rested when you wake up.


July 24, 2012