Sleep 101: How does (a lack of) sleep impact performance?

Getting enough quality sleep is often emphasized for competitive athletes to promote physical and mental recovery from rigorous training sessions, minimize the risk of injury, prevent fatigue and boost performance. And losing sleep can directly impact performance, too.

The last question we’ll address in our Sleep 101 series is how sleep – or a lack of – can affect your performance in CrossFit or weightlifting as it relates to competitions.

How does (a lack of) sleep impact performance?

If you travel for competition, there’s a chance you’ve experienced significant sleep impairment the night before the competition from travel departure times, jet lag or altitude differences. While more research is still needed on the effects of sleep and strength, some particular findings suggest that on a short timescale, sleep deprivation can have a major impact on performance, from slower reflexes and response times to a decrease in motivation to exert effort.

Pre-competition nerves are hard to control. But, thankfully, extra sleep has been seen to contribute to improved performance. One way to prep for a competition is to load up on some Zzzzs the nights before, so you don’t go into a comp sleep deprived.  Studies even show that banking a few hours in the week leading up to the competition can also reduce the impact of restrictive sleep the night before.

So, if you’re one to notoriously lose out on sleep the night before a meet, the best thing you can do is prepare as much as possible ahead of time and not obsess over it. Prioritize sleep as part of your daily recovery schedule in the weeks- and even months- leading up to a competition. Stay out of sleep debt and even stock up when you can.

Also, remember to utilize some relaxation strategies such as an epsom salt bath, meditation and stretching to help you wind down and get some much-needed rest.

Hope you’ve enjoyed the series! Check out the other common questions in our Sleep 101 series below.

Check out our series on sleep for more information: