4 Sleep Tips for High School Athletes
High school athletes who want to perform at their very best should prepare on many different levels. In addition to eating enough of the right foods, training to avoid injury and finding strategies for dealing with the stress of competition, student athletes also need enough high-quality sleep.
The experts at St. Charles Hospital’s Sleep Disorders Center want athletes to know these 4 things about sleep:
Some athletes many not realize that poor quality sleep could negatively affect their game-time performance and lead to poor decision making, slowed reaction time and fatigue injuries. In addition, the body releases HGH, human growth hormone, during sleep. While synthetic forms of HGH are illegal, the HGH naturally produced by the body supports overall physical growth and plays an important role in healing from injuries. The recommended amount of sleep for those aged 14-20 is 9 to 9.5 hours per night.
2. SLEEP IS SOMETHING TO PREPARE FOR:
Just as an athlete prepares in an organized fashion for a competition, they should also prepare for bed with activities that promote and encourage quality sleep. The blue light from electronic devices, such as cell phones and televisions, inhibits the release of melatonin, a naturally occurring hormone that induces sleep. Athletes should turn off these devices before getting into bed. In addition, it is important to limit caffeine (soda, energy drinks, etc) in the later part of the day. A warm shower or bath is one sleep-inducing ritual that can help athletes settle down for the evening.
3. THE BEDROOM SHOULD BE SET UP PROPERLY:
Just as the baselines on the basketball court and bases on a ball field have to be set a certain way for optimal conditions, so must the sleep environment. To optimize the bedroom for sleep, set a room temperature of no more than 68 degrees Fahrenheit, block out light with proper shades, use earplugs for noise reduction, make sure pillows are comfortable and mattresses fit properly, including for taller athletes. If a pet moves around the bedroom and disrupts sleep, reconsider their sleeping arrangements.
4. CERTAIN SLEEP AND WAKING BEHAVIORS SHOULD NOT BE IGNORED:
It is important to seek medical advice if an athlete snores loudly and often, chokes or gasps during the night, stops breathing for a few seconds at a time while asleep, sweats heavily during sleep, falls asleep at inappropriate times during the day, experiences discomfort in his or her legs, sleepwalks, has night terrors, or struggles to pay attention in school. Any of these behaviors could indicate an underlying sleep disorder.
St. Charles Hospital’s Sleep Disorders Center offers sleep testing for adults and children as young as three.
For more information, please call (631) 474-6797.