Sleep, sport, and the brain

The recognition that sleep is one of the foundations of athlete performance is increasing both in the elite athlete arena as well as applied performance research. Sleep, as identified through sleep deprivation and sleep extension investigations, has a role in performance, illness, injury, metabolism, cognition, memory, learning, and mood. Elite athletes have been identified as having poorer quality and quantity of sleep in comparison to the general population. This is likely the result on training times, competition stress/anxiety, muscle soreness, caffeine use, and travel. Sleep, in particular slow wave sleep, provides a restorative function to the body to recover from prior wakefulness and fatigue by repairing processes and restoring energy. In addition, research in the general population is highlighting the importance of sleep on neurophysiology, cognitive function, and mood which may have implications for elite athlete performance. It is thus increased understanding of both the effects of sleep deprivation and potential mechanisms of influence on performance that may allow scientists and practitioners to positively influence sleep in athletes and ultimately maximize performances.
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