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Why Jiu Jitsu Athletes Should Sleep More

Why Jiu Jitsu Athletes Should Sleep More


Missing those Zzzz's can impact performance


Sleep is an often-ignored element of physical and mental health among people of all ages. Ironically, people who sleep a limited amount are braggadocious about the few hours of rest they get. Being a student, I have heard a lot of peers talk about the all-nighters used to prepare for big exams but still do poorly. Thousands of research papers have been published about the negative impact of limited sleep for regular folks and athletes. It is important to know that when I talk about getting sleep, it means getting 7-8 hours of quality sleep and not just lying in bed for half of that.

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First, and this is one of most popular pieces of data sleep-proponents use to describe the negative consequences of sleep deprivation, is a study that showed how even moderate sleep deprivation can reduce reaction time and cognitive performance similar to that of alcohol-induced intoxication. Reaction times and mental performance are two vital aspects of Jiu Jitsu that if impaired, can significantly reduce success in matches.


Sleep is also the best way to recover from hard training and injuries. Growth hormone is a natural hormone our brains produce to grow muscle and recover. The hormone is released in a pulsatile fashion in which it is made at the largest amount while we sleep. This means that if we are sleep deprived, we are limiting how much growth hormone our brain produces, and there are limiting our body’s ability to recover and grow.

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Finally, quality sleep also helps our subconscious judgement. Sleep deprivation will alter our focus, memory, and learning and therefore increase the amount of errors we make when making fast subconscious decisions. How often do grapplers, including myself, say that we only lost or were submitted because we made a mistake? By improving our sleep, we can reduce the number of mistakes we do when grappling.


With all that said, most people know that sleep is vital and necessary to good health and mental performance. So how do we actually get good sleep other than the obvious sleeping ealier? A couple tips I have learned include limiting bright light after the sun goes, not using electronic devices up to an hour before sleeping, sleeping in a moderately cool room, reading a book for 20-30 minutes before bed, and most importantly is sleeping and waking up at the same time every day. I am confident that if you sleep more, not only will your Jiu Jitsu benefit, but you will feel much healthier in every aspect of your life.

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