So you want to know a secret to improving your athletic performance?
Get more sleep.
It may seem odd that something so easily accessible can greatly affect our performance, but it’s true. Sleep may be the most underestimated athletic performance enhancing technique. And I confess that I’m guilty of too often taking it for granted. So I’m excited to share here what I’ve learned from Harvard Medical School’s Healthy Sleep about the impact of sleep on performance.
Sleep plays an important role in acquiring new performance skills because of its impact on learning and memory. According to Healthy Sleep:
“Research suggests that sleep helps learning and memory in two distinct ways. First, a sleep-deprived person cannot focus attention optimally and therefore cannot learn efficiently. Second, sleep itself has a role in the consolidation of memory, which is essential for learning new information.”
Furthermore, what you learn—and your ability to apply that new technique—doesn’t stop when your workout ends. The experts at Harvard state that “research suggests that memory consolidation takes place during sleep through the strengthening of the neural connections that form our memories.” As a result, getting a good night’s sleep after learning a new skill is critical for improving both your memory and achieving peak performance.
In a World Athletica article, I share some things you can do to improve your sleeping habits. Meanwhile, I’m going to test one and get a good night’s sleep.