Whether you’re a professional football player in the NFL or the parent of a peewee champion, what happens the night before gameday is just as important as what happens on the field. After a long practice or an intense game, a recovery routine helps keep the body performing at its best. While nutrition, hydration, mental preparation, and training regimens are integral parts of athletic conditioning, there is one more thing football players need to prioritize to ensure they are playing at their prime: sleep.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, not getting enough sleep increases the chance of injury and fatigue, lowers energy levels and makes it harder to focus. A good night’s sleep is the secret weapon that gives athletes an edge over their competitors, but now, as the effects of sleep deprivation become more well-known and understood, more people are catching on. Sleep quality has become a major factor in how well a season goes overall, and coaches and owners across the NFL have started taking their players’ slumber much more seriously. Many have implemented protocols, like using dark rooms for naps, following sleep guidelines and answering questionnaires, to help manage their moneymakers’ sleep and wake cycles.
The quality and quantity of sleep achieved each night is directly related to how well athletes perform. Sleep not only restores your body, but it also revitalizes your mind, optimizing your ability to play at your best. Most people need 7-8 hours of sleep, but an athlete in training may need a little more for recovery and to boost athletic performance.
Here is why sleep is so important for an athlete.
As you sleep, the memories made and information learned throughout the day are stored. If your sleep is cut short, you may not be giving your brain enough time to complete this important process, making it difficult for you to properly evaluate situations and make accurate, split-second decisions, which ultimately influences your performance.
If you’re getting sick more often than your teammates, then you may need to evaluate how well you’re sleeping. Fatigue is likely to inhibit the function of your immune system, decreasing your body’s natural defenses to illness and increasing the time your body needs to heal. When your body’s internal functions are compromised, there is an increased chance of physical illness and injury.
After your muscles have carried you through an exhausting workout or intense game, they need time to recover, strengthen and grow. As you sleep, human growth hormone (HGH) is naturally released and the blood flow to your muscles increases, allowing your body to grow and repair on its own, naturally. Interestingly, lower HGH levels may have a negative impact on your quality of life, including increased risk of disease and storing body fat.
Even if you’re not a professional football player but want to improve your athletic performance, be sure you’re getting the sleep your body needs to be at your physical and mental best. Melatonin is a hormone that is an MVP player in sleep. Taking a high-quality, drug-free melatonin can increase both your quality and quantity of sleep and may enhance your HGH production.
If you need help getting a better night’s sleep, REMfresh® is a high-quality, clinically-tested, #1 Sleep- Doctor recommended sleep aid developed to continuously deliver 99% pure melatonin for up to 7 hours. REMfresh is available in 2 mg and 5 mg tablets so you can be sure you’re getting the right dose for your individual needs.
Everyone, not just professional athletes, can benefit from improving their sleep. Take the necessary steps now to get a better night’s sleep so your mental and physical health is not impacted in the future. Remember to train hard and recover harder!