Stephen Curry is a big fan of it.
Steve Nash swore by it every game day and tennis star Andy Murray does it often.
What is it? A nap!
These athletes know that getting extra sleep is important to playing at peak performance. Whether it’s a nap during the day or a couple extra hours at night, sleep helps athletes play their best and get injured less.
Teenagers need 9 to 10 hours of sleep a night, while younger children need 10 hours or more. Experts say that number should be even higher for athletes.
Here’s how getting enough shut-eye at night can help shut down the competition the next day.
- Faster speed and reaction time: A Stanford University study found that after swimmers got extra sleep, they swam faster, were quicker off the blocks, improved turn time and increased their kick strokes. In fact, many athletes set new personal records and season best times while participating in the study.
- Better accuracy: Additional studies performed at Stanford showed improved accuracy after athletes increased their nightly rest. Tennis players hit more accurate tennis shots and basketball players increased their free throw percentage by 9%.
- Reduced injuries: The American Academy of Pediatrics found that increased sleep reduces a child’s risk of sports injury. Kids who slept 8 or more hours each night were two times less likely to be injured than athletes who regularly slept less.
- Better recovery: Exercise breaks down muscle. Sleep is when your body repairs itself. The more sleep you get the more time your tissue and muscles have time to recover and get stronger.
- Less sickness: Lack of sleep weakens your immune system making you more likely to get sick. Sleep also affects how fast you recover after getting sick. This means more zzz’s can get you back in the game quicker.
- Manage stress: Research shows that lack of sleep increases the body’s level of the stress hormone, cortisol. Young athletes already have a lot on their plate between school, practices, games, friends and other activities. They don’t need a lack of sleep to up their stress and bring them down.