The secret to a great night's sleep

How important is sleep for sport?

The Wimbledon Championships kick off this week on the grass courts of London where the world's best will try to serve their way into the record books. World number one, Andy Murray, who won the tournament in 2013 and 2016, may not be in the form he was last year, but will return to centre court in a bid to engrave his name on the trophy once again.

Sleeping is important in all walks of life but for an athlete it is vital. Are you a sporty person? Perhaps you prefer to play the spectator? No matter how active you are, you will gain all the benefits below from a good night's sleep.

Improved reaction times and better accuracy

Sleep deprivation is known to reduce reaction time significantly and also reduce accuracy.  Pulling an all-nighter can reduce reaction times by more than 300%. That's more than having four pints of lager and a drunken kebab! A tennis player wouldn't walk onto the court after an afternoon session so they can't expect to perform to their best on less than a full night's sleep.

Reduced injury rates, improved overall health

Not getting your hours in on a night means your body doesn't have enough time to regenerate cells or repair muscles, this could really affect the outcome for the contestants at Wimbledon this week. Also, as you get older, your recovery time becomes longer; ageing Federer may have to worry about this more than his upcoming opponents, but we think he must be a good sleeper, winning 18 Grand Slam tournaments in his career.

Fewer mental errors

"Tennis is mostly mental" according to Venus Williams. Can you imagine the pressure of serving for a place in the record books? Especially in the eyes of millions! Sleep loss can impair judgement and often a single decision could cost a game. Not getting your rest can also hinder motivation, focus, memory, and learning; all factors which are vital to a winning set in tennis.

Let's hope Heather Watson, Andy Murray, and all the other British contestants are getting their hours in on a night! Come the 15th July let's see some silverware!

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