This is part 2 of our week long series exploring all the benefits a great night of sleep has on your athletic performance. Today we will examine how sleep helps your athletic recovery. Did you miss Part 1? Find it below:

Sleep plays a crucial role in your overall athletic recovery.


Your athletic performance and getting stronger isn’t just about what you do in your training sessions. Making sure you have a planned recovery and downtime are just as important. Many athletes already boost their recovery efforts by doing things like drinking recovery shakes or using a foam roller. Still, you may be surprised at how important a full night’s sleep is for helping your muscles recover.

With so much going on in an athlete’s daily life from two-a-day practices to work and family time, it’s no surprise that most athletes get less than the recommended amount of daily sleep. However, researchers have determined that sleep is the most important time for the body to recover. It’s actually proven that when an athlete gets the recommended daily amount of sleep, they will have better mental health, hormonal balance, and muscular recovery.

Just as athletes need more calories than most people when they’re in training, they need more sleep, too.

Unfortunately, only logging in the recommended hours of sleep isn’t going to be enough to help your body fully recover. You need to also make sure you are reaching a deep sleep. Think of it as a workout. If you only go through the motions, you won’t see the same results as if you really attack and focus on what you are training on.

Deep Sleep and HGH

There is more and more evidence showcasing the relationship between a deep sleep and the body’s natural release of Human Growth Hormone (HGH). When the body reaches a deep sleep it triggers the body to release HGH. HGH is responsible for muscle growth and repair, bone building and fat burning, and most importantly helps athletes recover. On the flip side, studies have also shown that sleep deprivation will actually slow down the release of HGH, limiting your body’s ability to fully recover after a tough workout.

“If you told an athlete you had a treatment that would reduce the chemicals associated with stress, that would naturally increase human growth hormone, that enhances recovery rate, that improves performance, they would all do it. Sleep does all of those things.”

— Casey Smith, Head Athletic Trainer, Dallas Mavericks

Mental Recovery

Sleep isn’t important only for helping your muscles recover. Interestingly enough, sleep can actually help you learn a new skill faster. Sleep plays a major role in your brain’s ability to “remember” what it just learned in your training session. In fact, studies have shown that sleep will also improve performance on visual perception tasks. If your body can learn how to do certain skills faster, you will speed up your reaction times as well as improve your body’s “muscle memory”. Without sleep, the brain struggles to consolidate memory and absorb new knowledge.

Join us tomorrow as we explore how sleep will affect your overall athletic performance from improving reaction times to making mental errors.