Today, we’re talking about sleep and sleep hygiene, specifically for our high school athletes, but this will apply to most of us in general.
The average adult needs 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Most of us aren’t getting that because we’re staying up late watching tv, scrolling social media, doing whatever but basically we are all experiencing some form of sleep deprivation.
For the high school athlete, this looks like: decreased time to exhaustion, decreased reaction time, decreased in sub-maximal lifts, decrease in psycho-motor skills. All these things look like a bad game and even worse, can show up as an injury on the field that may have been prevented.
On the other hand, if you look at an athlete who gets 7 to 9 hours (or more) of sleep each night, you’re going to see an increase time until they feel exhausted, increase in pyscho-motor skills, decrease in reaction time, better mood, more alert and all things considered, most likely a decreased likelihood of injuries and a better overall game.
So for my athletes out there looking for a competitive advantage, sleep is an easy way to tap into that. Here’s what you can do to improve sleep hygiene:
Consistency: Going to bed and waking up near the same time each day, even during the weekends, is going to get your body into a rhythm of knowing when it should be asleep and when it should be awake.
Caffeine, Screen Time, and Meals: Limiting all of these before bed. You don’t want your body working when you are trying to allow it to rest. Even if you are able to fall asleep, your body won’t be able to reach deeper stages of sleep.
Stress management: This one is for those who lie awake with their thoughts running at night. Being able to effectively manage stress better through exercise or meditation or any other technique will allow the mind to rest better at night.
Environment: Give yourself the best chance for a good night sleep and control the factors that you can control. Make sure your room is cool, dark, and quiet when it’s time to go to sleep.
Sunlight: Get sunlight exposure during the day. Viewing early morning sunlight cues the brain and body that the wake cycle is starting and will allow you to feel more alert. (Exercising outside in the mornings is an added bonus). Viewing sunlight near dusk also alerts the brain that nighttime is coming and levels of alertness will decrease.
Give these tips a try and see not only your sleep improve, but also your on field performance.