The Importance of Sleep in Athletics: Training, Performance and Injury
Hey Coach - it’s 10 PM… or 8 AM… Do you know where your players are?
It is surprising that with all of the research that is available these days, some coaches and trainers are still not aware of the importance of sleep in athletics with regard to training, performance and injury prevention.
Benefits of Sleep and Athletic Performance
Proper rest has been proven to be a natural performance enhancer that can improve several areas of your game by up to 10% or better. Alertness, fatigue perception, recovery, work out intensity, accuracy, decision making, temperament, and even good off the field decisions are strongly influenced by how well an athlete sleeps and recovers.
Lack of Sleep and an Increase in Injuries
It is not surprising to me that a study showed that athletes sleeping less than 6 hours per night were more likely to suffer a fatigue related injury the following day! Or that high school athletes who slept less than 8 hours per night on average had an injury rate of 1.7 times greater than those who slept more than 8 hours on average!
A player can’t be recruited if they are off the field with a fatigue related injury so you owe it to the player, for their own health and their future playing career, to incorporate sleep training in your program. Some of these injuries, such as concussions and ACL injuries, could result in lingering problems long past the athlete’s playing career.
Sleep Training: What is it?
Sleep training should review sleep hygiene, recovery strategies, scheduling, diet, and the proper use of over the counter medications and drugs including caffeine and alcohol.
The program also should introduce the many benefits of yoga, mindfulness, and meditation in assisting players to reduce stress and minimize insomnia.
It also should touch on the warning signs that indicate a sleep study is warranted such as loud snoring, pauses in breathing, or excessive sleepiness during the day.
This not only could help the team perform better as a whole; but quite literally, you could save a young athlete’s life. Too often we sadly hear of drivers, including athletes, who fell asleep at the wheel due to sleep deprivation that was not addressed or understood by the person or their peers.
Dangers of Inadequate Sleep
We need to do this today to avoid more stories like this one which mentions the frequency that this is happening and how life changing, or life ending, it can be….
Let’s not wait until it is too late to educate and train your players about the importance of sleep and the dangers of sleep deprivation!
Not sure where to start to “sleep train” like the professionals do? Let’s have that conversation that will keep your players healthy, on the field, and adding the extra W’s in the win column! You can start by reviewing several other articles I have written about sleep and athletic performance for the AAST right here:
Sleep Well! Compete Best!
Brendan Duffy, RPSGT
Registered Sleep Technologist &“Sleep/Sports Coach”