What is your sleep like AFTER a game or competition??

What’s your sleep like AFTER a competition?

Emily R Pappas, M.S.


We all know sleep is important, and we often focus on getting good quality rest the night before a competition. But what about after?Studies show that after intense physical competition, female athletes show higher levels of CORTISOL and decreased sleep QUALITY and QUANTITY. In fact, cortisol levels recorded in this study were significantly higher in the “post competition” group as compared to both the control group and the “post training” group.

Post-game-day vs Post-training

It all boils down to STRESS. The body cannot tell the difference between physical and emotional stress. When we fail to RECOVER from these stressors, our future athletic performance DECREASES.Game day is more stressful compared to training because it combines the physical demands of the sport with the mental and emotional demands of staying competitive for a long stretch of time.Without proper stress management, instead of improved performance, we experience:

  • Fatigued muscles

  • Slower reaction times

  • Lesser decision-making skills

All of this means we increase our chances of injury and burn out!

How to optimize recovery POST competition? 

So what can you do about it? Here are three areas to focus on after your next competition to optimize your recovery:

  1. SLEEP:8-10 hours

  2. NUTRITION: proper amounts/ratios of carbs, protein, and fats for your body size and activity level

  3. STRESS MANAGEMENT: take a little time to relax! Jumping right back into another hard training day immediately after a game is not what your body needs.

Remember, stress is not all bad. We impose stress on the body during training so it realizes it needs to be STRONGER to better handle that stress in the future. We impose stress on the body during competition to stay FOCUSED and at PEAK performance. But without the opportunity to recover from those stressors, it will never be able to ADAPT and IMPROVE for a later performance. So after your next big game, get good sleep, make great food choices, and take a little time  to recover physically and mentally.