Sleep is the foundation of mental health for every human being but more so, for athletes who have a gruelling physical routine. In the Indian sports landscape, problems related to sleep deprivation are given least priority but in actual, sleep is the fulcrum that impacts an athlete’s health and overall performance. It is not only needed for better physical endurance and strength but also for mental well being. In this article we will talk about the oft overlooked correlation between sleep and mental health for an athlete.
Sleep is the elixir of life that plays a silent but an integral role in the overall health, both physical and mental. It is during sleeping hours that the actual repair takes place. It is that restful sleep period when the learning and cognitive skills like decision making, accuracy, etc are sharpened. Whether you are a boxing champion sweating it out in the boxing arena or a marathon runner spending your day amping up your speed, you need to have a proper sleep of 7-9 hours to be in your best form. However, unfortunately most athletes are sleep-deprived and this hampers their mental well-being, which in turn affects their overall performance.
Sleep and mental disorders
Sleep and mental disorders have a bidirectional relationship, in which sleep disorders could be both a cause and consequence of mental health problems.
Lack of sleep can lead to some serious mental conditions, including depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. This can affect their overall game and hamper their physical health over a period of time. Remember, with an ongoing mental health issue, lack of repair and recovery from sleepless nights can further deteriorate the performance. The athlete is already at a disadvantage before even starting.
In fact, there is a high incidence of mental illnesses associated with people involved in aesthetics sports like gymnastics, figure skating, synchronised swimming, etc. It is so because in these sports an athlete is completely invested in a sport where the success is majorly based upon judgement by the jury, coaches, and even team members. Hence, the pressure to deliver increases manifold, leading to anxiety. A sleep-deprived mind can heighten the anxiety levels to a greater extent.
Sleep and recovery
It is especially critical for an athlete to have proper sleep as this is his opportunity to naturally recover, repair and prepare for the next day’s physical training and at the same time also be emotionally and mentally relaxed. A good night’s sleep will ensure that the athlete has enhanced cognitive functions like decision making and judgement, which are critical for any sportsman to give his best on the field or court.
Sports is a combination of skill, endurance, and mental alertness, and only the one that has a fine balance of all three can become the best in his game and make his way from the pillow to the podium.
Sleep and memories
The difference between a good athlete and an excellent athlete often depends on his mental and cognitive skills in addition to his skill and technique. Sleep is the secret weapon that can give him the competitive edge over others and attain results over a sustained period of time.
Sleep helps to retain and consolidate memories. When an athlete learns new techniques, sleep helps to retain them through memories, which improves on field performance. Without effective sleep, the pathways in the brain that allow you to learn and make memories cannot be formed or maintained. Thus, sleep is the most crucial element for an athlete’s success and the sooner one understands it, the faster he will gain a competitive edge over others.
Sleep and mood
Just like exercise is needed to enhance or maintain physical fitness, sleep is essential to maintain an athlete’s mental health. Insomnia or disturbed sleep can cause irritation, emotional outbursts and in severe cases athletes can suffer from mood disorders like bipolar disorder and mania. As per a Stanford study of basketball players it was seen those who got complete sleep had many positive outcomes, including faster sprints, better shooting, and improved mental well-being.
Thus, quality sleep is the underlying force that can push an athlete to attain any heights and make him the best in his arena. So if you are suffering from any mental health issues or finding it difficult to get peaceful sleep, reach out to SleepMoksha, a pioneer in sleep consulting, coaching, and education for athletes.
At SleepMoksha, we offer first of its kind drug-free customized programs for elite athletes to fight sleep problems using cutting-edge neuroscience with traditional therapies. The comprehensive sleep disorder screening and treatment program will improve sleep quality and efficiency, balance the nervous system, and evaluate the cognitive abilities through different mind body techniques. This will ultimately fulfill all the mental wellness goals.
Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, if you suffer from sleep deprivation or have any sleep disorder; we are here to push the reboot button and make quality sleep a part of your lifestyle.