Your Sleep Matters

It’s hard to see the benefit of doing something where…well…you’re not really doing anything. The benefits of sleep, especially for those pursuing athletic endeavors cannot be overstated. You need sleep. You need good sleep, and lots of it.

Teenagers in general don’t sleep enough. A recent study done by the National Sleep Foundation found that only 15% of teenagers get around 8 hours of sleep a night on school nights. You need between 8-10 hours of sleep each night.

With the rigors of school and homework, practices, games, and your social life with friends, finding time to get sleep is difficult. In order to get 8-10 hours, you would need to get to bed around 11:00 in order to get up and get ready for school the next morning around 7:00. What time do you get to bed each night?

What Your Lack of Sleep is doing to you

You probably notice in the morning when you didn’t get enough sleep the night before. You struggle to concentrate and focus on anything. A lack of sleep limits your ability to listen, learn, and concentrate. It can also limit your ability to solve problems.

How does being sleep deprived effect your athletic pursuits? Sleep works to give your body rest, and as your body rests, tissue cells repair and muscles recover thanks to the natural production of human growth hormone in your body. This hormone helps in tissue repair.

What are the Benefits of Good Sleep?

In a study done at Stanford University, several student-athletes were asked to increase their sleep to 10 hours a day over a span of six weeks. The results of the study showed that athletes who got more sleep had better spring and reaction times. The author of the study said “It is interesting to note that many of the athletes in the various sports I have worked with, including the swimmers in this study, have set multiple new personal records and season best times.” (Mah, 2008)

This idea of improved athletic performance goes even higher than the collegiate level. In the NBA, Steve Kerr from the Golden State Warriors along with MLB’s San Francisco Giants both employ a sleep specialist for their teams.

Most NBA teams that are playing on the road will fly back home immediately after the game. The Warriors don’t. They’ve found they perform better when they stay in the road city that night to sleep, the fly home the next morning and go straight to practice. This allows players to get more complete rest and practicing right after their flight back fights off any jet lag. It’s clear the Warriors’ strategy has paid off: Golden State won their first NBA Finals in 40 years.

How You Can Get More Sleep

  • Keep a consistent sleep schedule. Try going to bed at the same time and waking up at the same time each day, even on weekends.

  • Eat a large meal at night, roughly three hours before bedtime.

  • Avoid drinking caffeine at night. This reduces extra stimulants on your body that can keep you awake.

  • Manage your stress in a healthy way. Stress can cause you to stay awake with your mind racing.

  • Exercise early in the day. Don’t exercise within four hours of bedtime.

  • Take daily naps if you feel you’re not getting enough rest, but don’t do them too late in the day. They could interfere with your nightly sleep.

  • Turn off your devices. Spending a lot of time late in the evening on your phone or other device can make it more difficult for you to go to sleep.

  • Make sure your room is cool, quiet, and dark. This allows for the best conditions for sleep.

It’s hard to know how important good sleep really is until you’ve experienced a day without it. Follow these tips to make sure you get good rest. There’s a great possibility this will help you perform even better on the court and off the court.