Struggling to Sleep may lead to Struggles with Injury and Peformance
Not quite able to get that elusive eight hours of sleep?
Figure you'll catch up on the weekend, or once summer starts, or after the upcoming tournament ends?
Maybe you just don't think that sleep is that important in training and competition?
Well, if your goal is to optimize your athletic performance and limit your risk of injury, then wake up and take notice of the following studies on the importance of sleep:
- Colleagues from Children's Hospital of Los Angeles found that adolescent athletes who slept more than 8 hours a night were 68% less apt to be injured than peers who did not get that much sleep per night. Athletes who reached higher grade levels in school actually had higher injury risks, so the additional sleep recommendations are even more important for older adolescents versus younger adolescents.
- A wonderful infographic from fatiguescience.com compares a well rested athlete with a tired counterpart in a visual description of how poor sleep directly leads to poor performance. The graphic also illustrates the sleep habits of several well-known athletes and gives sensible tips on how to increase the quantity and quality of your sleep.
- For those who must deal with frequent long-distance travel and the demise of regular sleep habits, there's an App for that. Researchers at the University of Michigan utilize smartphones to monitor circadian clocks and make recommendations on lighting and other tips to more rapidly adjust to new time zones with travel.
Now, even when young athletes try to get this adequate amount of sleep, It is very common to have struggles with falling asleep, especially in the junior high or early high school years. If this scenario sounds familiar, start with the following recommendations:
- Use bedrooms only for sleeping and changing clothes
- Eliminate or reduce electronic exposure (TV, DVD, smartphones, computers, etc) in the bedroom
- Try to go to sleep within 1/2 hour of the same bedtime every night
- Stop all electronic exposures at least one hour before bedtime
- Limit caffeine use at or after dinner time
- If having trouble falling asleep, turn your clock/timer around so you can't see the time
Many other athletes report awaking frequently during the night, or even more perplexing, getting the recommended 8+ hours a night, but still awakening tired or feeling fatigued during the day. In in these cases, highly recommend scheduling a medical evaluation to review sleep habits and hygiene, with focus on possible tonsil/adenoid enlargement, overtraining, uncontrolled asthma or allergies, and other illnesses that might contribute to interrupted sleep or poor sleep quality.