What Kind Of Mattress Is Necessary For An Athlete?

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Athletes live their entire lives around schedules. They have practice sessions, regular training, competitions, frequent travel and so on. They have coaches telling them how to perform, trainers telling them how to strengthen their bodies but no one tells them how to sleep well at night. They push their bodies to limits and redefine possibilities. They need to be well-rested every night to push harder the next day.

A good night’s sleep allows the body to recover after a day of exertion. The REM cycle helps the brain release hormones that rests the body and facilitates healing and recovery. Only if they gain sufficient rest can they bring in amplified energy to the field the next day. In researches conducted among athletes, it was found that athletes sleep longer than their non-athlete counterparts. However, the quality of sleep was lacking especially during normal training periods and before important sporting competitions. The anxiety before competitions were a typical occurrence, even among elite athletes. For people who earn a living off their bodies being put under extreme pressure, it is crucial for them to look after it, rest and recharge it sufficiently.

ESPN reported that athletes like LeBron James sleep an average of twelve hours a day. Prominent athletes like Usain Bolt and Venus Williams sleep upto ten hours a day. This comes after a new wave of significance granted to the healing properties of sleep, especially among elite athletes. Gone are the days when people live by maxims like ‘You can sleep when you are dead’. Athletes need to get more sleep to aid the psychological and physiological recovery from training. They now use sleep monitors that provide sleep scores by recording the quality of sleep.

Actigraphy is an innovative, non-invasive method of studying sleep patterns for about twenty years. This is conducted by the use of wrist monitors that continually studies body movements and maps sleep patterns. It registers when the body is immobile and in a state of deep sleep. This method of studying sleep patterns is used to detect irregularities and disruptions in sleep behaviour. Those suffering from insomnia or sleep deprivation can use this data to bring about changes in their sleep hygiene and regulate sleeping patterns.

Steve Nash, a prominent Canadian basketball player who is an eight-time NBA All-Star spoke about the importance of napping on game days back in 2011. He said, “If you nap every game day, all those hours add up and it allows you to get through the season better. I want to improve at that, so by the end of the year, I feel better.”

Those athletes suffering from lack of quality sleep can find relief in napping. Napping is no longer associated with laziness. It is, in fact, encouraged among athletes.  Napping before a performance has proven to increase reflexes, cognizance and performance. It restores the deficits conceived through sleep deprivation. Power naps should be an inherent part of training schedules as athletes can benefit immensely from the boost it provides.


First things first, why is sleep so important among athletes?

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  1. Sleep improves reflexes:For athletes, it is important to remain on their toes at all times. They need to anticipate and prepare for their opponent’s moves. A fatigued mind does not perform in optimal capacity, reducing their motor reflexes and costing them during the competition.
  2. Substandard Performance: As athletes, they have good days and bad. Sometimes, their performances don’t meet their expectations. Unfortunately, a bad night’s sleep can be a contributing factor for that. A research conducted by Stony Brook University found that those NBA players who spent time tweeting the night before a game showed decreased performance the next night.
  3. Impact on learning and cognizance: Numerous studies have linked loss of sleep with reduced capability to learn new things. This is especially important among high-school athletes who need to fulfil both academic and athletic demands . A good night’s sleep allows the brain to consolidate memories and inspires the athlete’s ability to physically execute learned tasks.
  4. Decrement in psychomotor activity:Psychomotor activity are the skills which combine mental and physical activity. This includes balance and coordination. Researchers found an adverse impact on psychomotor skills was evident after only one night of restless sleep. This was seen to impact both men and women alike.
  5. Impact on psychological states:Loss of sleep was found to negatively impact the mental state of an individual. It was classified as a contributing factor to depression, mood swings, confusion and anger. An unpleasant mental state can prove to be damaging during a game.
  6. Increased chance of illnesses: A study called ‘Evidence of Disturbed Sleep and Increased Illness in Overreached Endurance Athletes’ found a correlation between sleep disruption and increased infection rate among athletes. Those who weren’t able to achieve the recuperative process through sleep fell ill faster, establishing a link between sleep and general well-being among athletes.
  7. Decreased pain tolerance: A study called ‘Sleep Deprivation and Pain Perception’ published in Sleep Medicine Reviews found that individuals who struggled with sleep felt pressure pain on increased levels than normal and thereby established a relationship between enhanced pain sensitivity among those who experiencing sleep deprivation.


One of the biggest changes that an athlete should make to improve sleep patterns is the mattress. A good mattress that suits their body type and sleeping position will aid in the recovery and rejuvenation of the body. The mattress needs of an individual varies with from person to person, their sleeping positions, common aches and points of pressure in their body.

There are an assortment of mattresses like memory foam, latex, hybrid, eco-friendly options and so on that are created for specific needs of individuals. However, with the wide range of mattresses and lack of time, athletes can find themselves struggling to make an informed decision.

Here are the aspects you need to look at before your purchase:

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  1. Cooling Technology: It is known that everyone sleeps better at cooler temperatures. Athletes tend to have higher body temperatures than normal as heat is distributed through the bloodstream due to muscle strain. Cooler temperatures in the bedroom and innovative technology that absorbs heat and moisture in the mattress fosters better sleep among athletes who are prone to wake up with night sweats. Natural breathability in the mattress cover helps dissipate the humid environments created by internal body heat and allows for uninterrupted sleep.
  2. Ideal support:Manufacturers are now rapidly innovating to fulfil the demands for mattresses that support the body weight and its contours. People now prefer memory foam mattress that is built to adapt to the body’s curvature reducing the pressure it would ordinarily face. These mattresses are especially comfortable for athletes as it would dissipate the weight evenly and allow the body to completely rest during the night. For those athletes suffering from muscle strain andwondering how to sleep with back pain, look at investing in a quality mattress that allows the body to recover efficiently.
  3. Allergen-free:After a long day of training in dust and sand, your lungs are working under a lot of pressure. To combat additional strain on the lungs, mattress manufacturers are now working toward combating allergies through innovative technology that provides an inhospitable environment to dust mites. This way, the user does not have to keep waking up during the night with allergic reactions.
  4. Lengthy Trial Periods: Purchasing a mattress is a decision that cannot be made over five minutes in a store. A person needs to spend a few nights in it, understand what they would want more and what is lacking before settling on one that works for him/her. Some manufacturers are now offering lengthy trial periods to let the customer get comfortable on the mattress and take an informed decision.
  5. Motion Transfer:Memory foam mattresses are created such that energy or movement is absorbed within, causing no disturbance to the person sleeping on the other side. Most often, when two people share a bed and one of them is a restless sleeper, it can cause the other person to have trouble sleeping as well. High quality foam mattresses are created to combat this problem with motion transfer technology.


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Apart from these crucial elements, one can also gauge the quality of the mattress through reviews from peer groups. The best sales person of any manufacturer is the genuine reviews customers offer. Athletes can benefit immensely by discussing mattress choice with peers who appear to be more well-rested.

Athletes tend put a lot of strain on their muscles and are prone to injuries, especially during intensive training periods. Those who continue to suffer from tightness and pain even after a change in the mattress can benefit from regular visits to chiropractors. These specialists are trained in the treatment of muscle exertion and soreness. They reduce the risk of injuries and improves blood circulation in the body. The treatment course is drug-free and non-invasive allowing athletes to get back on the field almost immediately.

The treatments can preferably be done after practice and before going to bed. It improves relaxation in the body and relives any pressures or pains they might be suffering from. This allow the body to relax and aids in achieving better sleep. As professional athletes, it is always beneficial to have a licensed chiropractor on speed dial. With chiropractic care becoming a conventional treatment course among athletes, sports chiropractors have now emerged worldwide. These doctors are trained to assess and alleviate problems common among athletes and their degree of exertion.

As more experts have voiced their opinion about importance of sleep among athletes, sports organisations have begun providing additional care to their athletes. However, it is still an upward journey. With hectic travel schedules and lack of awareness among athletes, sleep often takes a backseat during competitions. Instead of expensive recovery provisions, athletes may benefit more from learning about how effectively their bodies are optimised to heal through sleep.

Tom Brady, star quarterback of New England Patriots of the National Football League (NFL), was quoted saying “I think sleep is so important because I break my body down so much with my sport. It’s the only place to get the recovery that I need. After the kids go to bed I’m right behind them and, whenever they wake up, is usually when I wake up.”

Athletes who are constantly on the go can also benefit from developing healthy sleep routines to help them fall asleep no matter where they are. This could include baths before bed, a cup of warm tea and soothing music. If there is a lot of noise coming from the street, a white noise machine can help block out distracting sounds. It is important to keep the screens away as the light from it can disrupt sleeping patterns. This can include television, laptop and even their mobile phones. Avoiding caffeine induced beverages like sodas or coffee before bedtime can also help them sleep faster. Sticking to a set schedule of sleep can habituate the body to sleeping a fixed number of hours every day. Your body clock is an extremely powerful weapon to use against sleep disruptions and habituating it through discipline can pay off in the long run.