Sleep Affects Performance & Thought

Sleep Deprivation and Cognitive Performance


SleepDeprivation-1941 (Photo credit: DonJinTX)

“Chronic and acute sleep deprivation negatively impact thinking and learning. There is a loss of attention and alertness (Kilgore 2010), which involves a series of lapses or slowed responses, leading to waking-state instability in several cognitive processes, such as working memory (the temporary retention process of holding several pieces of information together in order to solve a problem or do a task) (Alhola & Polo-Kantola 2007).”

Whether reading this post as a high school athlete or a workplace tactical athlete, the amount and quality of sleep you enjoy will directly affect performance and thought.

The above quote comes from an article from the IDEA Fitness Journal, written by by Len Kravitz, PhD provides a concise overview of the many cognitive function and health consequences that come with a lack of sleep… I encourage you to READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.

From the physical standpoint, which the majority of our readers find the most interest in I’ll add several points on the need for sleep and physical performance.

Scientists don’t fully understand what happens while we sleep, but they know this much: Some of our genes act as internal clocks and release hormones according to cycles called circadian rhythms, which are triggered by darkness and light and alternate over 24-hour periods. When we mess with these rhythms by not getting enough sleep, our metabolism of glucose (which gives us energy) declines, and our level of cortisol (which causes stress) increases. Further, sleeping for long stretches is naturally anabolic: During deep sleep, our bodies release growth hormone, which stimulates the healing and growth of muscle and bone. So while it’s possible to push through a lack of sleep during any one day, proper sleep helps athletes in two ways. First, it boosts areas of performance that require top-notch cognitive function, like reaction time and hand-eye coordination. Second, it aids recovery from tough games and workouts.  (read more)

According to Cheri D. Mah, MS, researcher at the Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic and Research Laboratory in Stanford, Calif., an athlete’s nightly sleep requirement should be considered integral to attaining peak performance in all levels of sports.  She offered these tips to help athletes improve their performance by maximizing their sleep:

  • Prioritize sleep as a part of your regular training regimen.
  • Extend nightly sleep for several weeks to reduce your sleep debt before competition.
  • Maintain a low sleep debt by obtaining a sufficient amount of nightly sleep (seven to nine hours for adults, nine or more hours for teens and young adults).
  • Keep a regular sleep-wake schedule, going to bed and waking up at the same times every day.
  • Take brief 20-30 minute naps to obtain additional sleep during the day, especially if drowsy.

Increase safely and naturally your human growth hormone levels.  Turn out the lights, close the shades, and close your eyes.  Your mind, your body, and your team will appreciate the benefits you receive.

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