Sleep habits of great athletes: The relationship between sleep and sports performance

If you want to make great plays and score many goals, you might need to improve your sleep habits. Of course, you must also train, but to have a better performance in any sport, it is important to get good rest.

Important role

Many sport teams, including Real Madrid, have discovered the important role that sleep plays in athletic performance, and that is why they are using new training methods. According to one of the leaders of Madrid’s medical services, sleep and rest must be a part of training. They recommend players to have healthy sleeping habits. Besides, naptime is sacred for Real Madrid and the resting discipline is very strict in their field of training. Every day, between one and three in the afternoon, the players and their coaching staff take a nap to recharge energies and give their maximum in the soccer field.

Bale’s case

Soccer player Gareth Bale used to go to sleep and wake up really late, with little energy in the morning, before he reached his highest performance. This is very common among athletes, especially after competing in games. Real Madrid hired a recognized sleep specialist, Nick Littlehales, who created a sleep profile for each player. According to Littlehales, “Now Gareth works according to the time the game starts. He has a routine before and after the game. If the game starts at 7:45 pm, his sleeping time is 2:00 am. He wakes up at 6:30 am and eats his breakfast. If he is still tired, he takes a 90 minute nap at the times mentioned before until he gets all the sleep he needs.”


Sleeping poorly for 64 hours reduces the body’s strength and power; excessive fatigue can force the body to consume its protein reserves, affecting muscle mass and increasing the risk of tears to the muscles.

It is recommended to start a prep routine 90 minutes before going to sleep, turning off the T.V., mobile devices and other electronic gadgets that radiate light. Taking a shower before bed allows the body to relax, as does drinking a glass of warm milk, for dairy is rich in tryptophan, which stimulates the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin and melatonin, which help boost sleep.