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Will One Night of Poor Sleep Affect Your Workout?

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Tiger Woods hasn't slept. The pro golfer is returning to action for the first time at the Players Championship this weekend, after a wrist injury at the Masters in April, but it's more than the stress of the tournament that's keeping him awake at night.

Woods' father passed away on May 3, 2006, prompting the athlete to reveal that "May 3 to 5 is brutal" on him. He also just ended a high-profile relationship with skier Lindsey Vonn this past weekend, saying that this extra stressor "just adds to it." So it's understandable that he hasn't exactly been getting a full night's sleep—and it reportedly showed in his practice round.

But how much does sleep really impact your game?

How Much Sleep We Need
"Generally, we do best on roughly seven and a quarter hours of sleep in a 24-hour period," says Steven Feinsilver, M.D., Director of the Center for Sleep Medicine at Mount Sinai. "It doesn't have to be all at once." He also notes that the lucky sleepers of the world may need just five hours, and the unlucky sleepers may need nine. Everyone's rest needs are different, and genetics play a big role in determining that sweet spot.

Acute Sleep Loss
Here's the good news: Your body is designed to absolve one night of inadequate sleep, he says. "On a single night of lost sleep, you won't necessarily feel good the next day, but you'll do pretty well." That means your performance in the gym, on the field, or on the trails shouldn't see much of a dip. "I suspect the performance change would be relatively small, especially because you're getting a lot of adrenaline as well," he explains. (Learn What Really Happens When You're Sleep Deprived.) 

Chronic Sleep Loss
Burning the midnight oil at work day in and day out, or can't turn off your mind at night? You could start to accumulate sleep debt that will be hard to rebound from. "And there's generally no substitute for sleep," says Feinsilver. (But if you find that magical Extra Sleep Supplement, we're all ears!) Over time, a lack of sleep could start to seriously wage war on your body—and your performance too.

"With chronic sleep loss, everything starts to change," Feinsilver says. "Blood pressure starts to go up, blood sugar levels become worse, and risks of heart-related events go up. We know chronic insomnia is bad for you."

Play Catch-Up
If you're not sleeping like you usually do, start making up your deficit with short rests each day. "For most people, napping is the best strategy," says Feinsilver. "Our bodies are designed to take naps in the mid-afternoon, which is when we generally get tired. Take a nap, but for no more than 45 minutes."

No matter how bad your night of sleep was, Feinsilver suggests waking up at roughly the same time each day. "A one-hour-a-day swing is the most change you should have in your schedule," he says. On the flip side, hop in bed at the appropriate hour. Find you do best on eight hours of sleep and need to get up at 7 a.m.? Hit the hay at 11 p.m.. And don't lay down too late or too early: "Going to bed should mean going to sleep," says Feinsilver. (And try the most awesome Science-Backed Strategies on How to Sleep Better.)

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