For many Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) enthusiasts, art becomes an all-consuming passion. If you’re one of these die-hard fans, you might want to consider incorporating BJJ not only into your waking life but also into your sleep routine (no, we’re not talking about sleep induced by rear naked choke)!
Surprisingly, your sleep habits can significantly impact your BJJ performance. If you find yourself training relentlessly but not seeing much improvement, the answer might lie not on the mat but between the sheets.
A Stanford University sleep study highlights the importance of sleep for BJJ practitioners. The study found a strong correlation between sleep patterns and reaction time, revealing that athletes who got extra sleep completed a 15-meter sprint half a second faster than when they slept their usual duration. This study spanned seven weeks, during which student-athletes extended their sleep to 10 hours per night for 6 to 7 weeks before being retested.
Cheri Mah of the Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic and Research Laboratory explained that sleep plays a vital role in achieving peak athletic performance. Although the study focused on collegiate swimmers, its findings apply to athletes across various sports, including BJJ.
Similar results were observed in Stanford’s men’s basketball team, with improvements in free throw percentages and overall mood and alertness. Many participating athletes even set new personal records and season-best times.
These findings emphasize the importance of reaction time in BJJ, as a well-rested brain reacts more quickly than a tired one. BJJ practitioners engage in mental chess with their opponents, and a fraction of a second can make all the difference in scoring points or securing a submission.
Dr. Matthew Edlund, in a Huffington Post article, further explained the Stanford study’s scientific basis. He linked the results to the production of brain cells during deep sleep, which is essential for learning new physical moves and improving overall memory and mood.
Eve Van Cauter, Ph.D., from the University of Chicago Medical School, conducted related research on sleep deprivation. She found that sleep-deprived patients experienced higher cortisol levels and less efficient glucose metabolism, which can lead to health issues like diabetes and mental disorders.
To get better sleep and improve your BJJ performance, consider the following tips:
- Avoid caffeine at least 8 hours before bedtime.
- Establish a regular bedtime routine, even on weekends.
- Skip nightcaps, as alcohol negatively affects the REM sleep process.
- Opt for bedtime snacks that won’t spike your insulin levels.
- Turn off all blue light-emitting devices 1 hour before bed.
- Keep your bedroom dark and cool, ideally between 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Reserve the bedroom for sleep (and maybe one other activity).
- If you have an active or racing mind, try reading or listening to audiobooks to relax.
Bonus tip: eat properly and plan a good diet for your BJJ training.
Remember, your BJJ performance is closely tied to your sleep quality. Maintaining a balanced lifestyle and prioritizing sleep can significantly improve your performance on the mat. So, if you want to excel in BJJ, start by getting cozy with Mr. Sandman!
Are you serious about getting better at BJJ? Give a look at our free guide on how to improve at Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu quickly.