In the rehabilitation and sports performance worlds, we are under a constant rain of new supplements. Supplements that help us stay lean, that let us think better,  that improve our athletic abilities, supplements that will let us grow to “Hulk” like dimensions. We obviously don’t buy into all of them, but before we even think about these supplements, let’s take a step back and talk about the best supplement ever, sleep. In my opinion, sleep should be considered the most affordable supplement of all. Here are three key reasons why sleep is the best supplement ever:

First, we all need sleep to function normally. If we deprive ourselves of sleep bad things happen. In the United States alone over 100,000 car accidents and over 1,500 deaths are linked to sleepiness each year. This is because lack of sleep affects our ability to learn, concentrate and have good mental health (Thompson C. Prevention Practice. A physical therapist’s guide to health, fitness, and wellness. SLACK Incorporated. 2007). Sleep well and you will be able to think clearly, perform better and perfect your sports skills.

Second, we all have basically the same goal, to get bigger, stronger and faster. Sleep will help you with this because about 70% of the growth hormone in our bodies circulates while we sleep (Thompson, 2007). If it wasn’t for sleep we would never be able to grow and get strong.

Finally, sleep equals a better immune system. We all suffer from infections from time to time and we tend to reach for a bottle of pills in response, but do we even consider the power of sleep in helping us fight inflections ? Our bodies  regenerate the immune system through sleep and therefore lack of it reduces our body’s ability to fight infections (Thompson, 2007). Sleeping will help your body repair and restore itself as you fight the infection off.

33% of all Americans have sleep disorders at some point in their lives (Kowalenko T, Kowalenko J, Gryzbowski M, Rabinovich A. Emergency medicine resident related auto accidents – Is sleep deprivation a risk factor? Acad Emerg Med. 2000; 7 (10):1171). Sleep is essential to all of us and we should never take it for granted. If you suffer from sleep disturbances or lack of sleep, you must not ignore it and should consider seeing your doctor, because it may become a chronic problem that could be devastating, not only say, for a professional weightlifter recovering from an acute injury, who needs to return to competition, but also for a layman driving to work after only four hours of sleep.

In rehabilitation and sports performance sleeping is a key ingredient of successful outcomes, whether they are winning an Olympic gold medal or rehabilitation from an ACL reconstruction. Sleep well and you will be bigger, stronger, faster, smarter and healthier. What else do you need from a supplement?