The results are backed by science, it’s free, and has no negative side effects. So why are so many young athletes not getting enough of this wonder drug? That’s right, a little known training secret that many ELITE athletes have been taking advantage of for quite some time…lots and lots of SLEEP!
In an episode of “Hard knocks Houston Texans” this past season on HBO, reigning NFL Defensive Player of The year, JJ Watt lets a young player in on his secret to success, “Sleep ten plus hours every night!” He goes on to explain that he rarely goes out at night and is typically in bed at 7:30pm. It’s hard to argue since Watts rapid rise in the NFL has been nothing less than spectacular! A lightly recruited walk on defensive end at Wisconsin, he is a bonafide superstar who picked up his third Defensive Player Of The Year Award in 2015.
And Watt isn’t the only elite athlete who knows the value of sleep. Usain Bolt became the first man in history to win six Olympic gold medals for sprinting. According to FatigueScience.com Bolt claimed sleep to be the most important part of his training regimen. “I need to rest and recover in order for the training I do to be absorbed by my body.” Michael Phelps and Roger Federer average 10-12 hours a night and Lebron James attributes much of his success to the 12 hours of Z’s he notches each night.
Scientists have long known about the benefits of sleep for overall health. And now scientists are able to measure what it means to athletic performance and the results have been jaw dropping.
According to Fatiguescience.com, sleep helps in these five major areas:
- Reaction time – Maybe the single most important skill in sports. Even just one all-nighter can reduce your reaction time by 300%, so imagine what that sleepover birthday party did to your kid at his soccer game.
- Reduce Injury – In a study of young athletes, the singe most common predictor of injury was sleep, even more than hours of practice.
- Longer playing careers – In a study of some MLB players, there was a direct link to length of career and sleep.
- Better accuracy and faster sprint times – A study done using the Stanford men’s basketball team revealed that sleep has a direct correlation to shot accuracy and sprint speed.
- Fewer mental errors – Motivation, focus, and memory are all linked to sleep. The less sleep you have, the more errors that occur in all areas of your decision making on the court or field.
Whether your child is aiming to be the next JJ Watt or just wants to experience success in their sport, helping your child achieve the maximum amount of sleep each night will help them achieve their goals on and off the field.