Sleep for Athletes

If you are an athlete who would like to improve your performance – consider reviewing your sleep patterns. For athletes, it is an important time where the body rests to repair and regenerate damaged muscles and tissues. Typically, most people require 7-8 hours of sleep per day, however this is very individual. Research suggests that athletes with high amounts of volume or intensity will require more than this.

Factors Affecting Sleep

  • A change in routine or very early training or late night competition
  • Muscle soreness or injury
  • Stress and/or anxiety
  • Travel across time zones
  • Use of electronic devices prior
  • Change in sleep environment or noise
  • Consumption of stimulants such as caffeine


Naps during the day can be effective if used correctly. A short nap (no longer than one hour) can improve alertness and performance. However, athletes should have at least 30-60mins of awake time prior to commencing training post nap. Naps longer than 60mins may affect night time sleep patterns.

Improve Your Sleep

  • Cool, dark room (approx. 21 degrees)
  • Comfortable bedding/cushions
  • Create a good routine – wake up/sleep around the same time each day
  • Avoid using electronic devices before bed time
  • If you cannot sleep after 20mins, try getting out of bed to do something boring (with low light) before trying to again
  • Avoid large amounts of caffeine or fluid close to bed time
  • Prepare a to do list or get ready for the next day to avoid “over thinking”
  • Use relaxation or breathing techniques. Check out our blog on Mindfulness & Meditation

If you are having trouble sleeping, this may be a sign of over training syndrome. Read through our blog on Progressive Overload in Your Training for more info.

This article has been summarised from the Australian Institute of Sport’s Sleep Fact Sheet. Download here.