How Does Sleep Affect the Productivity and Performance of Athletes?

3 min read

Last Modified 4 March 2022 First Added 29 July 2021

By Letara Buckley

When it comes to preparing to take part in a big sporting event, which of these do you think is most important: physical training or getting a good night’s sleep? The answer is both. Sleep is equally as important to a fitness regime when it comes to sports training. That’s because sleep helps you to recover.

Survey results show how important sleep is

In light of the Games in Tokyo, new research commissioned by Dreams beds surveyed both Team GB and ParalympicsGB athletes vs the British public on their sleeping habits. The research revealed a big secret to high performance: sleep.

88% of ParalympicsGB athletes surveyed agreed sleep is equally as important as physical training, with 70% of those surveyed sleeping for 8 or more hours every night.

Over 80% of Team GB athletes claim to have a regular bedtime routine – where they go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day. That’s compared to just 15% of the public who say they try, but often fail at a regular routine. A further 12% of the public claim to have no bedtime routine at all – not good, guys!

When it comes to dozing off, athletes favour the soothing sounds of podcasts and music (52%) to help them sleep, while 30% of Brits prefer a good page-turning book. Paralympic skier, Millie Knight listens to Harry Potter audiobooks on a timer as part of her sleep routine. Learn more about Millie’s sleeping habits here. She says:

Skiing is a high-risk sport that requires quick thinking and concentration. If you’re impaired by lack of sleep or poor-quality sleep, mistakes can occur, resulting in loss of speed and potentially danger!

The survey also revealed that athletes are better at turning off their devices before bed, with almost a quarter putting down phones and iPads before sleep, compared to just over 10% of the British public.

Now that you know just how important sleep is when exercising or training, you might be interested in the science behind it. Check out this article ‘Science Shows You Become Fitter When You Sleep’. Sounds almost too good to be true!

Top 5 sleep aids

In terms of getting some well-needed shut-eye, the survey found the following five sleep aids the most popular with ParalympicsGB athletes:

  1. Listening to music or a podcast (52%)
  2. Reading before bed (41%)
  3. Switching off devices (23%)
  4. Watching TV (11%)
  5. Listening to ASMR sounds (11%)

Check out this article ‘10 Ways to Sleep Better at Night’ for further ideas and what to avoid.

According to research, three in five Brits say the iconic sporting events inspire them to exercise more, eat well and sleep better.

If you’re interested in keeping up to date with our athletes, check out our hub of athlete profiles and sleep-related articles here.

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