Body Composition and Athletes' Sleep

Posted by Darian Dozier on Feb 26, 2022 12:11:00 PM

Add a heading-Dec-06-2021-09-00-10-05-PM

Athletes need sleep for optimal performance. Sleep is a time when the body can perform many necessary repair processes for athletes to avoid injury and keep their energy levels high. However, the more muscular athletes are could actually impair their ability to get sleep. Continue reading to find out how sleep and body composition are related. 

Why athletes need sleep 

Sleep is a key component of athletes' physical recovery. It allows for the heart's cells and tissues to repair, allowing them to recovery after physical exertion. Athletes put their muscles and heart under a lot of exertional stress while training. It's important that muscles are able to recover, bones are able to be broken down and rebuilt, and growth hormone (which peaks during sleep) is able to be secreted at high enough levels. 

Hormone, mood, and energy regulation are also important aspects of sleep. When athletes get proper sleep they can improve their focus and energy to better train and get the maximum outcome from their workouts. 

Sleep deprivation and athletes 

When athletes do not get enough sleep, there can be detrimental effects on their training outcomes. Athletes are more prone to injury when they don't get the right amount of sleep. Their muscles and bones don't have enough time to properly repair, especially with chronic sleep deprivation. 

Athletes also may not have the proper energy and focus for them to maximize their workout. Without enough focus, they increase their risk for injury, especially while weight lifting or doing something technical that requires focus to complete properly. Also, without sufficient energy, they may not be motivated to workout at their max potential, increasing their risk of not performing well which can negatively impact mental health of athletes. Mood regulation is also very important and tied to sleep. Athletes may not be able to properly deal with setbacks and adversities because they are so tired. 


A study out of Japan found that muscle mass may actually have an impact on sleep quality. They looked at 17 male athletes and 19 female athletes who competed in basketball and track and field. What they found were that those who had greater fat and muscle mass (mostly male athletes) had lower sleep efficiency, longer sleep onset latency, and less REM sleep during a sleep session. 

Male athletes also had significantly less slow-wave (N3) sleep. This is the stage of sleep when the body repairs and heals itself, so it correlates with the finding that greater muscle mass impacted sleep quality. 

The limitations in this study show that only basketball and track and field athletes were examined and that body composition is different sport to sport. There may be different results in athletes of different sports. However, it can shed light on the importance of sleep for athletic performance. It may be important to intervene in those who are having sleep troubles and may affect how sleep is treated among athletic training during on- and off-season. 

Improving sleep 

If athletes are having sleep troubles, it's important that someone intervene and help athletes improve their sleep as soon as possible. Prolonged sleep trouble can lead to a host of other issues, so it's important to manage it as soon as possible. 

Athletes can improve their sleep by creating a sleep hygiene, or a set routine they do to help prepare their minds and bodies for sleep. It's also important to go to sleep and wake up at the same time everyday and avoid prolonged daytime naps. 

If you are an athlete and having trouble with sleep, please click the orange button below and take a free online sleep test. 

Take a Free Online Sleep Test



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