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Healthy Sleep Habits in Athletes

August 16, 2018

By Amberle Phillips, MA, ATC, SCAT
Athletic Trainer

Adequate amounts of sleep are vital for athletic performance and mental function. This is especially true for younger athletes. Sleep deprivation among college-aged athletes can be attributed to travel for sport, stress, balancing academics, athletics, and social life. The National Athletic Trainers’ Association recommends eight hours of sleep for individuals aged 17-22 years.

Sleep deprivation may impact mental health. The body’s ability to deal with stress and emotions depends on sleep to regulate proper functionality. Without sleep the mind is unable to process situations effectively and may cause emotional instability and inability to process stressful situations. Mood and depression are also affected by lack of sleep. Sleep deprivation may cause increased depression and other mood swings. The mind is not the only thing that is impacted by lack of sleep; the body’s cells are also affected.

During sleep is when the cells in the body grow, repair and rebuild helping injuries heal and preventing further injury from occurring. Cells need the rest that sleep provides to catch up on the days’ work that the body did. The cells will repair themselves and create new cells to assist in growth, and repair. The healing of cells that takes place during sleep is also the time when muscle cells and tissue can grow. Poor sleep and shortened sleep may also lead to weight gain and obesity. This is especially true in adolescents whom require more sleep than adults.

Here are a few tips and tricks that can be done to help fall asleep and to stay asleep:

  • Turn off all devices 1 hour prior to bedtime
  • Create a bedtime routine
  • Exercise daily
  • Meditation or total muscle relaxation techniques
  • Avoid caffeine late in the day
  • Stick to a schedule, even on the weekends