The Importance of Sleep for World Class Athletes

Sound, regenerative sleep is undoubtedly important for athletic performance. Strength Planetreports that elite athletes get an average of 8.75 hours of sleep each night—over an hour more than the general population. But length of sleep time isn’t enough—sleep must be sound and unbroken for the body to get the most out of each uninterrupted sleep cycle. Here’s how to encourage sound sleep so that you can function at peak performance.

How to Sleep Like a World Class Athlete

  • Use quality sleep hygiene. According to WebMD, sleep strategist Mark Rosekind, PhD, worked with the Olympic athletic training facility in Colorado Springs, Colorado to give athletes the edge they needed to focus on gold. Rosekind brought in pillow-top full beds over twins to give larger athletes comfortable, supportive sleep space; installed reliable alarm clocks; and lowered light, temperature, and background noise.
  • Focus on the amenities. Your bed isn’t the only thing affecting your sleep. Keep a clean, uncluttered bedroom and a comfortable work space. The right desk and desk chair will encourage you to work at a desk; the right couch encourages comfortable reading or TV-watching outside the bed. A comfortable living space makes it easier to save the bed only for sleeping, which encourages your body to prepare for sleep when you lie down.
  • Experiment. Some athletes use unusual sleeping arrangements as part of their training regimes. Michael Phelps, for example, uses a high-altitude simulation chamber erected around his bed. According to the Baltimore Sun the chamber was developed by the company Hypoxico, which usually costs about $15,000. The thinner oxygen in the chamber makes the body work harder, so Phelps basically trains while he sleeps.

Just don’t sleep like you’re in the Olympic Village! Phelps told USA Today that athletes’ bedrooms are tiny and shared with potential rivals. Surrounding yourself with stressful situations in an uncomfortable sleep space is no way to live. It may make life more interesting for the few weeks athletes spend at the Olympics, but similar conditions over long periods could lead to major problems with sleep and wellness. Author Bio: +Michelle Gordon is a sleep expert who researches and writes about sleep and health, and is an online publisher for the latex mattress specialist