In today’s competitive world of sports, concerns over athletes’ mental health and well-being are gaining increasing attention. Superstars like Australian cricketer Steve Smith, English footballer Dele Alli, and former South African cricketer AB de Villiers have recently opened up about their struggles with nerves and anxiety. They are shedding light on the challenges athletes face in managing their mental health in an intensely demanding field.
AB de Villiers, known as ‘Mr 360,’ has added his voice to the conversation on mental health. In a video on his Youtube channel, the former cricketer revealed his experiences with anxiety and nerves, particularly on the nights before high-pressure matches. Like Steve Smith and Dele Alli, he discussed his reliance on sleeping pills to cope with the pressure and ensure a good performance.
Speaking on his Youtube channel, de Villiers spoke about sleeping cycles and tablets. “I can relate to this because I had similar issues before big games, really struggling to sleep. Sleeping tablets helped me fall asleep and it can become a problem after a while because the tablet only doesn’t make you sleep, it makes you feel really relaxed, takes a bit of anxiety away and you just feel in a very good space.”
De Villiers shared how sleeping tablets helped him fall asleep before big games, making him feel relaxed and easing anxiety. He narrated a vivid incident from the 2015 World Cup when he scored a remarkable 162(66) against West Indies in Sydney. Despite his incredible innings, he struggled to sleep the night before the crucial match and eventually sought medical help. He emphasized that performance anxiety, stress, and pressure were the primary reasons behind his sleep issues.
De Villiers said, “I very clearly remember the game in the 2015 World Cup. It was the night before we played the West Indies. I actually ended up scoring a hundred which was very surprising one of the best knocks of my life. But that night, I literally slept for 2-3 hours maximum. At 3 am, I got the doctor over to my room, got an injection and I just couldn’t sleep. I had stomach cramps and it was purely based around anxiety, stress and pressure, thinking about the next big game, which was a must-win for us.”
While acknowledging the potential benefits of sleeping tablets for managing anxiety on important occasions, de Villiers also highlighted the dangers of becoming too reliant on such medication. He expressed concern about the addictive nature of sleeping pills, cautioning athletes against taking them when not genuinely needed. He described the loneliness he experienced in hotel rooms, continuously worrying about the next big match, which eventually led to anxiety within himself.
“It was just those lonely times in the hotel room, thinking, ‘I have to do this again tomorrow, I have to do it again’. It just never stopped, ultimately creating a bit of anxiety within myself. Sleeping tablets can be so addictive that sometimes you start taking them when you don’t really need them. That’s where it becomes the problem. Luckily for me, I stabilized the last 5-7 years, got a little bit better, but it’s very dangerous.” De Villiers further stated.