Caption: A good sleeping schedule can be the difference between a great athlete and an average one 

For many of us, getting a whopping eight hours of sleep each night may seem like a far off, lofty dream. However, obtaining a sufficient amount of zzz’s is actually extremely important for your body’s functioning and for overall demeanor. In fact, the current average of sleep is around 6.5 hours, but experts recommend at least 7, ideally 8-9 hours for the everyday adult.

Adequate sleep is even more important for sports players of all kinds, as it is an invaluable aspect of athleticism. The truth is most people know they need more sleep but struggle to clock in those types of hours each night. Below, we’ll take a look at some huge benefits of healthy sleep schedules that may motivate you to make those eight hours a consistent part of your everyday routine.

Being well rested can enhance performance 

You may be surprised to find out that professional athletes are typically advised to get even more sleep than the average adult; 8-10 hours each night. While this may seem like a lot, just take a moment to think about how your body feels when you get less sleep than you should. You most likely felt drowsy, weak, and less motivated. Athletes rely on their bodies to compete at the highest levels. A poor sleep routine possesses less concentration, slower reaction times, and an overall worse performance.

In fact, sleep is so important for pro athletes and casual sports players alike that many studies have been conducted on the topic, further proving its advantages. Research done by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine found that collegiate basketball players who extended their sleep patterns to 8.5 hours actually improved diverse skills within the sport, such as sprints and free throws shots. The same goes for professional baseball players who, in one study, increased their nightly average and showed a 13% faster cognitive response time.

Even for professional poker players, healthy sleep patterns are a must. As the sport requires long hours of continual concentration, being well-rested is vital to perform to your optimum ability. The best in the game know how to load their sleep and hit the tables fresh and ready to dominate.

So, as you can see, whether it’s basketball, baseball, or even the world’s most beloved strategy game, players who make sufficient sleep a priority are immediately better off.

Good sleep can drive away stress and anxiety 

For athletes of all kinds, mental balance affects gameplay more than you may think. A performer whose body is weighed down by stress and anxiety is less likely to take home trophies from important competitions and matches.

Athletes who sleep just five hours are much more likely to experience aggravation, mood swings, and even loss of motivation. Players who get less sleep on a consistent basis may also see a drop in their energy levels, a factor that will immediately affect performance in the short and long-term.

Let’s face it- a happy athlete whose mental balance is in check is better than one whose lack of sleep is driving him or her to become easily stressed out.

A full night’s rest can prevent weight gain  

A huge factor of athleticism is consistently working out and having a body that is in shape. Trainings, practice, and even solo trips to the gym are invaluable for the athlete whose performance is linked to a healthy interior. Keeping off the pounds is important for the everyday individual, but even more essential for athletes. For runners, there are even dangers associated with over-activity if you’re not already in shape.

An adequate, consistent amount of sleep can help produce less ghrelin, the hormone that makes your brain think you’re hungry, and more leptin, the one that gives your body the feeling of being “full.” The balance of these two hormones is especially important for athletes who must maintain great fitness for their sport.

Caption: Healthy sleep patterns have real health benefits that help people maintain their fitness

Sleep is a friend to the immune system 

By now you understand that more sleep is great for every aspect of health. In addition, long hours of uninterrupted sleep is directly linked to a healthy immune system. The two practically go hand-in-hand, as sleep deprivation can actually attack the body’s immune system, causing a person to be more vulnerable to colds and flus. Since sickness can be one of the worst things for any athlete, leading to missed games and opportunities, it’s imperative to strive for satisfactory rest each and every day.