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Why Your High School Athlete Should Be Getting Sleep

By Sean Wells

OC Sports Performance has been training middle and high school students(recently even younger athletes) for close to ten years now and one observation of late has been the increase in the number of athletes that are regularly getting less than 6 hours of sleep per night.

Why is a lack of sleep for OC Sports Performance athletes an issue?

The biggest, scariest reason this is a problem, is that kids are 1.7x as likely to get injured playing a sport if they got less than 8 hours of sleep the night before*. To clearly restate this, sleep or the lack thereof is making your child more likely to get injured. All of the work that they put into the gym is not as beneficial unless they are sleeping 8 hours the night before.

Sleep recommendations for youth athletes:

Athletes ages of 6-13 years old is for 9 to 11 hours a night. Sleep recommendation for teenagers is 8-10 hours of sleep. If their regular bedtime is consistent, youth athletes will fall asleep faster and in turn get a higher quality of sleep compared to those that have irregular sleep schedules, or bedtimes.

Here are some ways to help your child with sleep hygiene:

A set bedtime routine and a set time to be asleep. This gives the body a stimulus that is routine which allows the body to relax and in turn get to sleep faster. The bedtime routine should involve at least one hour away from the phone/screens before bed. The light from phones, screens slows the process of getting into a deep sleep.

A cold, dark, and quiet room

Ideal air temperature to sleep is close to 68 degrees for most people. The room would have no ambient light in it at all or nothing that causes light to flood the room. This recommendation includes phones, alarms, tvs, etc. Dark, “blackout” curtains also help. Visible light(s), even if it doesn’t wake the person, cause(s) disturbances in the sleeping cycles and can lead to lower quality of sleep. White noise can help someone stay asleep and stay in deep sleep longer; but radios, music, etc. can prematurely wake a person and disrupt their sleep.

Restrict caffeine intake

More and more teenagers are drinking caffeine filled drinks(which depending on age might not be recommended at all). If your teenager is drinking coffee, tea, soda(hopefully not), etc., they should restrict caffeine intake 4-5 hours before bedtime.

Better Sleep = A healthier athlete, a healthier athlete = BETTER PERFORMANCE

Athletes ask about getting better performance in the weight room or on the field of play, but don’t think about the large benefits available from better sleep, both physically, and academically as well. When it comes to optimizing and enhancing athletic performance, improved sleep is often the most effective method that is easy to control with a bit of focus on establishing a proper sleep routine.

*Milewski, Sleep and Athletes, 2014. Friedrich, Sleep/sleep quality, 2018. Harada, Sleep/soccer, 2016.

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