How Does Sleep Impact Your Football Performance?
Getting enough sleep is one of the key prerequisites for performing well in any sport. Even though a lack of sleep doesn’t affect our performance in every sport equally, it has a significant effect on the quality of our delivery.
Football is no exception. Whether you’re a professional footballer or an amateur, it’s vital to get proper rest before and after every game of football.
In the next few paragraphs, you’ll see what happens on the football pitch if you (don’t) sleep properly.
Lack of sleep and concentration
When you don’t sleep for 17-20 hours, your brain starts to feel weary and exhausted. Sometimes this is similar to feeling tipsy or slightly drunk. Your motor skills slow down significantly and your decision-making process is less effective.
In short, sleepiness deteriorates your concentration. For footballers, not being able to focus at the decisive moment can result in a missed penalty or a fatal defensive mistake. What’s more, a chronic lack of sleep can affect your memory, which can be a problem both at training sessions and at football games.
If combined with excessive use of alcohol, a sleeping disorder can ruin your career. And for amateur footballers, it could result in expulsion from your team.
Getting rest before and after the match
If you want to improve your focus and maintain your motor skills, it is important to get some rest right before and after the match.
For instance, if you have a game on Saturday, it would be useful to go to bed earlier on Friday evening. If you get at least 8 hours of firm sleep the night before every match, you’ll fuel your muscles with enough energy for a great performance.
Also, getting proper rest before the game will help you ensure you’re calmer and more collected. In other words, it’s less likely that you’ll be sent off. Players who don’t sleep well are more likely to go berserk and get a red card.
The same goes for the period after the match, when it is also important to give your body enough time to recover. If you’ve played an entire 90-minute football game match, it would be great to get even more than 8 hours of sleep. That way, you’ll allow your brain and your body to recover both mentally and physically from the loss of energy.
Sleeping regularly and properly is especially important for younger footballers. Since they are still developing, their bodies need more time to recover from more intensive physical strain.
Higher risk of injuries
We’ve mentioned that your motor skills slow down when you’re running low on sleep. As a result, your muscles, bones, and joints don’t receive messages from the brain on time. We’re talking about milliseconds, but these drowsy reactions increase the risk of injuries.
For instance, if a winger is in the middle of a counterattack and a defensive player decides to stop him with a tackle, these milliseconds can be extremely important. If the attacking player manages to dodge the tackle, he might avoid a severe injury. On the other hand, if your reaction is too slow in such a situation, you won’t manage to move from a dangerous position.
Similarly, if you don’t give your muscles enough time to recover via sleep, the muscle tissue will be less firm. As a result, you’ll be prone to muscle strain or tear.
Improving sleep quality
If you’re a footballer and you can’t get enough sleep, it’s time to think about the remedies for your problem.
First and foremost, you should try to calm down a few hours before bedtime. Switch off your phone and computer two hours before you go to sleep. Play some relaxing music or a feel-good movie and eat light food for dinner, especially the night before your match. This will ease the feeling of pre-match anxiety and excitement.
Make sure to sleep in a room with an appropriate temperature. This means between 18 and 20 degrees Celsius.
Logically, what you sleep on makes a difference, so a good memory foam mattress would certainly be a better option than a squeaky couch.
When the match is finished, avoid long visits to night clubs. Go back home and treat your body to a relaxing evening. You may want to sip yourself one drink just to relax and go to bed to get a long night of quality sleep.
The final word
Footballers consume a lot of energy during their training sessions and official games. Even if you’re an amateur football player, you’re still under a lot of physical stress. That’s why it’s important to improve your sleep quality. As you start sleeping more, your concentration will get better, and you’ll reduce the risk of injuries.