Alyssa Bialowas

The importance of quality sleep for athletes is often underrated. While a major focus is constantly put on physical training and nutrition, sleep takes a backseat. However, sleep is just as important for the overall health of athletes, and can impact sports performance in a very real way. Quality sleep is essential for athletic success and can help decrease injury rates, and increase physical recovery and mental alertness.  

A study out of Brazil analyzed the relationship between sleep quality, mood and game results in elite volleyball athletes (Andrade et al. 2016). Prior research indicates that better sleep quality contributes to better emotional and physical recovery for athletes, and that athletes with fewer than the ideal number of sleep hours per day were found to have had their sports performance negatively affected (Andrade et al. 2016). The study aimed to determine the relationship between sleep, mood and match results in elite volleyball athletes.

Related Article: Is Quality Sleep a Predictor for Sports Injury?

3 ways sleep impacts sports performance.

1. Boosts Mental Alertness

Without proper sleep, your mental alertness takes a hit. Sleep loss impairs your focus, memory, judgement and learning capacity, so you’re not at your best mentally when you’re tired. Many sports require athletes to make split-second decisions, so if they’re off their game, it could have a major impact.

Andrade et al. (2016) found that with each point increase in confusion (characterized by unusual response to anxiety/depression, feelings of uncertainty and inability to control emotions) there was a 19.7% decrease in sleep quality for elite volleyball athletes. A lack of sleep quality therefore can negatively influence athletic performance and interfere with attaining the desired game result (Andrade et al. 2016).

2. Lowers Tension Levels, Increasing Game Success

Andrade et al. (2016) found that mood was associated with athletes’ success in competitions. Stress and tension can have a negative overall effect on athletes, leading to an unfavorable result. Athletes that lost their game showed higher tension at the time of evaluation than those who won their game (Andrade et al. 2016). Therefore, athletes who slept well, and won their games, had lower tension levels.

3. Reduces Injury Rates

Quality sleep contributes to everything from a healthy immune system to increased alertness to muscle recovery. Take away any or all these things and you have a recipe for increased injuries. In a study in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports (2016) it was determined that athletes who got over 8 hours of sleep during weekdays reduced the odds of injury by 61%.


Proper, quality sleep is essential for athletes and sports performance. Quality sleep boosts mental awareness, lowers tension levels, reduces injury, and is associated with wins. Sleep is just as important as training and proper nutrition for elite athletes.

Related Article: 7 Tips to Get You Sleeping Again

You Might Like:

  • picture of someone sleeping in a bed

Is Sleep the Missing Link to Athletic Performance?

Hunter Bennett When it comes to maximizing athletic performance, we often find ourselves seeking out complex training methodologies and fancy new pieces of equipment to get an edge on the competition – and as a

The Effects of Sleep Quality and HIIT

Moji Kaviani Quality of sleep appears to be positively associated with both physical and psychological health (Halson, 2016; Lastella et al., 2012). Therefore, numerous studies examined the relationship between physical activity and sleep suggesting

  • White noise machines article

Best White Noise Machines For Sleep

Getting enough sleep is critical for your mind and body. For that reason, many people rely on white noise machines to help them get to sleep and stay there all night. What are White Noise

  • Sleep Apnea

5 Signs of Sleep Apnea

Most people snore once in a while, but what happens when your loud, continuous snoring becomes a nightly occurrence? If it’s accompanied by other symptoms, you could be one of the estimated 22 million American

  • Melatonin

Melatonin for Sleep: is it Safe?

Does getting to sleep or staying asleep turn every night into a frustrating challenge? Whether you have occasional or chronic insomnia, or experience travel-related jet lag or another sleep disorder, melatonin supplements could be the

  • Sleep Naked

5 Benefits of Sleeping Naked: The Scientific Facts

Could what you wear to bed make a difference in how you feel in the morning? According to research, the answer might surprise you. Although only about 17 percent of the population sleeps in the


Andrade, A., Bevilacqua, G.G., Coimbra, D.R., Pereira, F.S., and Brandt, R. (2016). “Sleep Quality, Mood and Performance: A Study of Elite Brazilian Volleyball Athletes.” Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, 16, 601-605.

Von Rosen, P., Frohm, A., Kottorp, A. Friden, C., and Heijne, A. (2016). “Too Little Sleep and an Unhealthy Diet Could Increase the Risk of Sustaining a New Injury in Adolescent Elite Athletes.” Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports.