COVID, Sports & Sleep

When speaking about COVID-19, a well-covered facet of its effects has centered around sports leagues attempting to have successful seasons. Many different methods have been tried, with varying results. One of the main problems with sports during COVID-19 is the close contact required, not only with opposing teams but their own teammates, which makes the spread much more likely.

As guidelines from health officials and updates about the spread of COVID permeate the news cycle, many myths and rumors about the virus begin to circulate, how the virus spreads, etc. For example, COVID-19 being transmitted through houseflies, spread by shoes, or avoided by drinking warm water every 15 minutes. However, there is one indisputable fact about the virus which is, similar to other viruses, sleep is crucial. A lack of consistent and productive sleep can negatively impact the immune system and the body’s ability to fight off diseases.

Sleep is so vital for athletes, particularly high performing athletes, because it affects many aspects of their performance in a game or in practice. Sleep deprivation can increase levels of the stress hormone, cortisol and increase the possibility of fatigue, low energy, and poor focus at game time. A study in the journal SLEEP reports that well-rested subjects showed increased accuracy in split-second decision making whereas those with poor sleep showed a decline. Longer sleep times can positively affect reaction times, sprint times, tennis serve accuracy, swim turns, and increased free-throw and 3-point accuracy. However, despite all of these improvement with better sleep, elite athletes are known to get less total sleep than non-athletes.

With the different leagues we have seen attempt to conduct a season amongst COVID-19, the NBA is among the most successful. However, this did not come without a price. The league reportedly spent around $150 million to create the bubble in which they kept all players, staff, and reporters in order to prevent the spread. They had an isolation room for players who tested positive, regular diagnostic testing, contract tracing, and aggressive quarantining. Many players and league staff were also given the option to wear ‘smart rings’ that track metrics such as heart rate, temperature, etc. Importantly, the ‘smart rings’ are additive in effectively determining appropriate sleep adding to an athletes proficiency and in some instances, as provided by Somnology’s SomnoRing™ track for Covid-19 characteristics.

As teams are putting in so much effort to keep players healthy in order to complete their season effectively, taking all reasonable precautionary measures can help put them in the best position to succeed. Somnology’s SLaaS®, a comprehensive sleepcare program utilizes telemedicine which means there is no risk of infection from in-person doctor visits and all appointments can be conducted remotely. Further, it connects you with a sleep physician and sleep technicians who can read and interpret the results of body metrics measured by popular hardware devices. A completely risk-free, cost-effective solution that can enhance performance and ensure that athletes optimize their performance in the realm of sleep.

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