While lack of sleep can make you feel generally lethargic and in some cases give you muscle ache, research has found that it has little or no effect on athletic achievement. It’s common for an athlete to lose sleep the night before an important contest. You may sleep easier knowing in most cases, a restless night or two makes little or no impact on moderate physical performance. A bigger problem is that people think they are playing worse.
It’s not all good news though. Research indicates sleep loss undermines creative thinking (spontaneity, flexibility and originality) and the ability to deal with unfamiliar situations. All of which play a part in soccer. A 2015 study by the University of Birmingham found that performance during the day can vary by as much as 26%. People who wake up early tend to peak earlier in the day when compared to those who wake up later. So if your game is in the evening, you might do better to wake up later.
“I’ve always believed the sleep you get two nights before a game is more important than sleep the night before,” says football pro Jay Hilgenberg.
Whatever your routine is, research shows that consistency is the key. Fatigue was influenced more by the time of day or the phase of the circadian cycle (the body’s time clock) than by hours of sleep lost. So going to bed late and getting up late can leave you more tired, even if you get the same amount of sleep.
Athletes should maintain regular sleep patterns to feel well and rested before a day’s activities, however strenuous. There is no need to worry over a restless night before a match.