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The Importance of Recovery for eSports Athletes

Recovery is a vital part of esports athletes’ performance, longevity, and overall health. What does recovery mean exactly? Recovery refers to the need for your body and mind to take a break from everyday stresses and strains. In this article, I will discuss the importance of recovery for esports athletes, focusing specifically on sleep.

There are many recovery methods that can be utilized, sleep being the most critical. Sleep allows the body and mind to recover from the stresses and strains of the waking hours. For a competitive gamer who puts countless hours into their game, there can be an exceedingly large toll put on the body and mind. Without quality sleep, competitors are unable to fully reap the benefits of practice sessions and hours of hard work. Here are three important benefits to getting a good night’s sleep.

…during sleep, your brain acts like a dishwasher—cleaning out debris that builds up during waking hours.”

The first benefit is improved learning through memory consolidation. Research shows that during sleep, the mind processes memories that occur throughout the day. This process involves clearing away the information that is unnecessary and storing important information into your long-term memory. During practice sessions, you’ll be learning complex movements, strategies, and skills that will be better learned with quality sleep. On the flip side, if you get a good night’s sleep, then your brain will be primed to learn more effectively throughout the day. This learning is both cognitive and physical, critical components for top esports performance.

The second benefit? Sleep literally cleans your brain. Recent research shows that during sleep, your brain acts like a dishwasher—cleaning out debris that builds up during waking hours. You have probably felt the consequences of this process if you have ever pulled an all-nighter and felt like your brain was foggy. This is because the proteins and debris that have built up over the course of the day aren’t able to be “cleaned away”, leading you to feeling sluggish and not refreshed. This sleep deprived state makes it difficult to play at your best and can lead to a decrease in gaming performance, and many repercussions for your overall health. No amount of caffeine is going to be able to get you out of this sleep deprived state. By getting quality sleep, your brain will have the clarity and energy to perform at a higher level due to this cleaning process leading to improved gaming performance.

There are many recovery methods that can be utilized, sleep being the most critical.”

The third benefit we’ll discuss is improved mental and physical performance. A night of quality sleep improves reaction time and hand-eye coordination, while even minor sleep deprivation can make your game-time reactions sloth-like. Cognitive performance such as speed, flexibility, and attention are also negatively affected by a lack of quality sleep. Consistent quality sleep will ensure that you are mentally and physically prepared to play at your best.

A big problem in esports recently are the injuries that many top professionals are developing from the overall stress of the game. Many players who do not exercise, eat well, or get quality sleep face a higher risk of injuries than those who take care of themselves. Research shows competitive gaming takes quite a heavy toll on the body and mind. Many of these injuries are caused by overuse and overtraining which can be prevented. The overuse injuries are caused by repetitive movements, especially flexing of the hands. This can also lead to overtraining, which is a state when the body and mind are under too much stress and cannot adequately recover. This state leads to an increased risk of injury, poor mental and physical performance, and decreased longevity. The unfortunate result of this is shortening players careers. However, these can be avoided when players take an active role in their sleeping habits and overall wellbeing.

As we’ve discussed, sleep is a vital part of your training recovery regime. By focusing on getting quality sleep, you will be able to improve your learning potential, cognitive function, and gaming performance while reducing the risk of injury. To help you achieve great sleeping habits, check out the downloadable PDF that I have created. This provides general sleep tips and specific sleep tips before a competition. If you would like more help with your recovery plan, sign up for a free consultation with me at esportsperformancelab.com. I’d be happy to help you out.

Jake Middleton
@JakeAtESPL

My name is Jake Middleton and I’m the founder of esports Performance LabLLC. I have been working with gamers and doing research for the past few years in esports performance. I have a bachelor’s degree in exercise & movement science from Missouri State University and I’m a certified exercise physiologist and a certified personal trainer with the American College of Sports Medicine. I’m an avid gamer myself, ex-competitive Halo player, huge Game of Thrones fan, and I live in Kansas City, MO.

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