Tricks Athletes Use to Make Sleep a Priority

This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation


Seven sports stars who get plenty of zzz’s

Whether you’re a serious athlete who competes in half or full marathons or just someone who likes to go for a walk or bike ride now and then, getting more sleep leads to better sports performance. And the more you train, the more shut-eye you’ll need. That’s because physical activity puts stress on your body, particularly on the muscles and the nervous system. Muscle repair and rebuilding happens when you’re snoozing, meaning you need more time to recoup. Check out what athletes do to keep their bodies in peak shape. Follow their lead!

Catch Enough Winks.

Since athletes need more sleep than average people, eight to 10 hours of zzz's a night is recommended, and that’s not just before game day—that’s every evening. After all, the more often and more vigorously you use your muscles, the more time it takes for your body to repair and rebuild them. Roger Federer and LeBron James famously snooze for an average of 12 hours a night, while Usain Bolt, Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova, and Steve Nash get up to 10 hours a night. Federer has said, “If I don't sleep 11 to 12 hours per day, it’s not right.”

Stick to a Schedule.

Being consistent is key—try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. When your body is used to a sleep schedule, it’s easier to fall asleep. Alex Boone, the offensive lineman for the San Francisco 49ers, knows the value of having a routine. “To wake up…early and play a game…you've gotta have your body clock ready or else you're going to be as tired as hell,” he has said. “It's hugely important."

Take Power Naps.

If you have trouble sleeping at night, skip the nap. Otherwise, just 10 to 30 minutes of shut-eye during the day can give a two- to three-hour boost in energy and performance, but longer naps can make you feel groggy and sluggish. Even Olympians rely on naps, including volleyball player and three-time gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings. “The biggest fitness challenge for me is getting enough sleep,” Jennings has said. “As an athlete, it’s very important to have recovery time. So I’ve been trying to schedule a nap into my day, even it’s just a quick 20 minute snooze in the car before a workout.”

Looking for the best mattress for athletes? Check out our guide!