The Importance of Sleep In Cognitive Soccer Development

Here is a short story about a scientist and a rat that makes for an appropriate introduction into the importance of sleep. This particular scientist was performing spatial research on the rat as it traveled through a maze. In order to collect the data he hooked electrodes up to the rat’s brain as the rat passed through the maze. The brain data from the animal was converted into sounds for the scientist to listen to. The scientist could tell exactly what the animal was doing by the areas of the brain that were being stimulated and the corresponding sounds that were generated. If the animal turned right it would activate a certain area of the brain, compared to turning left which would make a different sound. After the experiment was over one of the other scientists in the lab was doing research and heard the sounds of the animal going through the maze. He thought to himself “who put the animal back in the maze”? He checked on the animal and to his surprise found the animal sleeping, however they had forgotten to take the electrodes off his head.  Incredibly  the rat was reviewing and going through the maze exactly as it did during the day in its sleep, probably imprinting the route it traveled into the brain! This example is very powerful when it comes to developing the sports brain. However, be aware that research has told us that in order to retain knowledge from the day, 6 hours of sleep is required or else you will lose a significant amount of what you learned that day. The research focuses around “Sleep Spindles” and the retention of skills and knowledge. I would be willing to bet that if the scientist woke the rat up during his sleep, the process of hardwiring what was learned about the maze into the brain would have been interrupted and the information lost or at least not retained fully. That example may make you think about sleep in a different way now. If the team had a great training session during the day but the players stayed up most of the night playing Xbox, would some of the effectiveness of the afternoons training session be lost? Will the benefits of the training session not be retained compared to if the players slept for 8 hours? It is my opinion both the physical and mental benefits would be severely reduced. However, sleep is responsible for much more than just memory and hardwiring. The brain produces its own version of waste products during the day. During sleep the waste products are cleansed out of the brain allowing it to be ready and fully functional for the following day. If this cleansing did not take place the brain will have a reduced capacity the following day. The excerpts below are from a leader in sleep strategies, he has worked with some of the largest soccer clubs in the world and individual players as well. After reading the excerpts from the article you will see even more clearly the connection of sleep as it relates to athletic and brain performance.

“The Importance of Sleep In A Soccer Environment”

 Top athletes like Roger Federer and LeBron James sleep upwards of 10 hours per/day and the research shows this is beneficial for performance. A study from a top university states that basketball players who increased sleep levels to around 10 hours per/day improved shot accuracy by 9%, sprinting speed and reaction time.

Just one restless night sleep and the immune system weakens and risk of illness increases. If you sleep poorly for 64 hours or more, power and strength is reduced. Researchers discovered that mice exposed to dim light during their sleeping hours gained 50% more weight than mice sleeping in total darkness. They also found that the mice not sleeping in total darkness (sleeping with light on) experienced glucose intolerance (a pre-diabetic condition). Sleep habits are directly connected to body weight and sleep deprivation is directly linked to lean muscle mass loss.

Professional soccer clubs are now monitoring player’s sleeping-patterns, building the perfect sleep environments and having high tech sleep assessments done.

To many games in a short period of time can increase the hormone called cortisol. This hormone can lead to a decrease in muscle mass, making the player more susceptible to injuries. Lack of sleep can cause the brain to lose its ability to sense where limbs are positioned and the perception of effort. This makes injuries much more likely to occur.   Ample sleep can reduce these fatigue related effects.

Real Madrid has 81 high tech bedrooms for players and staff to sleep. It is proven sleep can affect the player’s stamina levels, decision-making ability, confidence, alertness, patience, reaction time, awareness and injury probability. Every person has different sleep cycles, biological clock or circadian rhythm. Every player is wired different. Some are not morning people and some are. The trick is to plan the sleep correctly, which will include napping in the morning or afternoon at the correct time.

Humans have five phases of sleep that repeat every 90 minutes. Five cycles is equal to 7.5 hours of sleep. This is enough for the average adult. For best sleep start preparing for bed 90 minutes prior to sleep time. Turn music down and lights. Reduce your body temperature by taking a shower. Keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature that is not to warm. Have a glass of milk or dairy product before going to bed – dairy products contain tryptophan, which induces sleep. Do not eat or drink things that are high in sugar or caffeine before getting ready for bed. Also, fatty meals for dinner are not recommended – it can elevate body temperature for long periods.

When we talk about cognitive soccer development, it is impossible not to include the areas that make-up a healthy overall cognitive lifestyle. Sleep is just one piece of the puzzle that makes up a healthy cognitive lifestyle. To be the best on the field, it is important to live a responsible and healthy cognitive lifestyle off the field. If you are interested in becoming a “Cognitive Soccer Instructor” please click on – this is the only Online Cognitive Soccer Instructors Diploma Course offered on the internet.