Four things you didn’t know about sleep and your performance
Editor’s Note: This article was submitted by our partner, Go4, in an ongoing series of health and safety-related posts.
Athletes require quality sleep for optimal performance, recovery and overall health. As an athlete, you should focus on developing good sleep hygiene habits to improve your quality of sleep. Sleep hygiene refers to a set of practices that promote good sleep quality and quantity. Here are some sleep hygiene tips for athletes:
- Stick to a consistent sleep schedule
- Athletes should aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, including weekends. This helps regulate the body’s internal clock and promotes better sleep quality. Try to avoid staying up late or sleeping in on weekends, as this can disrupt your sleep schedule. Youth athletes should be aiming for 8-10 hours per night.
- Sleep reduces your risk of certain injuries
- A recent study from C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan found that adolescent athletes who sustained bone stress injuries (i.e. stress fractures) reported less sleep in their normal sleeping pattern than the control group of non-injured athletes.1
- Poor sleep = poor performance
- Athletes should avoid consuming stimulants such as caffeine, ginseng or nicotine before bed. These substances can disrupt sleep and cause frequent interruptions during the night. Interrupted sleep impacts your cognitive function, which increases the perceived training load resulting in a poorer performance.
- Your morning matters
- Wake up with time to execute. Stretch to help wake up your body by increasing blood flow. Drink a glass of water to rehydrate your body and make you more alert. Then get some daylight; natural light helps regulate your body’s circadian rhythm and sends a signal to your brain that it’s time to wake up. Go for a quick walk or do some light exercise. Finally, eat breakfast to fuel your body and give you energy for the games ahead.
- Surgery, D. of O. (n.d.). How sleep impacts performance in youth athletes : Current Sports Medicine Reports. LWW. https://journals.lww.com/acsm-csmr/Fulltext/2020/11000/How_Sleep_Impacts_Performance_in_Youth_Athletes.8.aspx?context=LatestArticles
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