The science is pretty clear humans need a lot of sleep (at least 6 hours) while athletes need even more (7 to 8 hours). Despite most BJJ players knowing this they still don’t get enough sleep due to bad sleeping habits. It is time to examine the negative impact sleep deprivation has on your BJJ performance and to show you 5 easy tips that you can use to improve your sleep quality so you can feel fast, strong and energetic on the mats.
How Does Sleep Deprivation Affect BJJ Athletes?
Sleep deprivation has been linked to increased risk of illness. Scientific research has revealed that athletes who on average get less than 5 hours of sleep per night are 4.5 times more likely to suffer infections and catch the flu compared to athletes who sleep for 7 hours.
Do you really want to be forced to skip training or be crushed during a BJJ competition because you got sick due to your shitty sleeping routine?
If you are a young die hard BJJ mat rat the chance of catching a cold because of poor sleep may not inspire you to change your habits. However, maybe the increased risk of injury you are placing yourself at may have you hitting the sack a little earlier. Current scientific studies have revealed that athletes who sleep less than 8 hours per night are 1.8 times more likely to be injured than those who sleep for 8 hours or more.
If you are a BJJ athlete who wants to get their black belt and have a long career on the mats then you better be getting 8 hours of sleep a night otherwise you risk suffering from chronic illness and injuries.
How can BJJ athletes improve their sleep?
The best way for BJJ athletes to fix their sleep is by darkening their bedroom, having a consistent bedtime, avoiding electronic screens 2 hours before sleep, not indulging in late afternoon naps and cups of coffee or caffeinated beverages.
1. Dark Room!
Humans get the highest quality sleep when it is dark as possible. To ensure you are receiving high quality sleep you need to make your room extra dark. In your bedroom there should be no light creeping in through your curtains or electronic devices flashing their lights. If you are a BJJ athlete who wants to take their sleep to the next level you should buy blackout curtains and seal the edges with tape so no light can get through.
2. Same Sleep/Wake Time
Humans perform best when they have set routines and structure. When you wake up and sleep at all hours of the day and night you are disrupting your body’s ability to rest. It is important to create a sleeping schedule and maintain it. This is a must if your goal is to get high quality sleep.
If you are a BJJ athlete you should be in bed and asleep before 11pm every night and rising before or at 8am. The latest sleep research has shown this sleep schedule is best for athletic performance.
3. Don’t Use Electronic Devices Close To Bedtime
The light from your electronic devices especially from your phone and laptop screen can seriously mess with your sleep. It isn’t just the light that causes issues, phones, video games and TVs can send your central nervous system into overdrive by rising adrenaline and cortisol levels preventing you from falling asleep. To get a good night’s sleep avoid electronic devices 2 hours before bed.
If you do not know what to do for 2 hours before bed without your phone then consider reading, stretching or playing cards.
4. Napping No Later Than Mid Afternoon
Naps are great. They can help you get some extra sleep and provide you with extra energy needed to crush your next BJJ workout. The issue occurs when you have naps too close to your bedtime. Late afternoon naps can make it hard for you to fall asleep at night resulting in poor sleeping habits. To prevent this avoid napping after 1pm.
5. Avoid Caffeine
Caffeine is one of the few legal supplements that can have a profound positive impact on a BJJ athlete’s performance. Caffeine will give you higher levels of speed, power and endurance on the BJJ mats. However, with the higher levels of energy that caffeine brings, comes a greater difficulty relaxing and calming yourself before sleeping.
Don’t panic just yet, we aren’t suggesting you have to ban yourself from coffee. We recommend you avoid ingesting caffeine in the late afternoon or evening if you are a BJJ player wanting to get a good night’s sleep.
Even though caffeine is a great way to boost BJJ performance we have experienced staring at our bedroom ceiling after a late night cafe fuelled training session wondering if sleep is an impossibility. To avoid this horrible feeling and the unavoidable lethargy of tomorrow avoid consuming coffee any later than 3pm.
If you want to improve your skills and performance on the BJJ mats and decrease your chance of injury and infection you need to optimise your sleep. Implement our 5 simple sleeping tips and let us know if you see any uptick in your BJJ ability during training or competition.