The Importance of Sleep for Athletes
Sleep is a very undervalued tool in an athlete’s recovery period throughout the day. Even outside of athletics, sleep is extremely important for a child’s growth physically and mentally. For adults, the general guideline of sleep is 7-9 hours for proper mental and physical recovery. Athletes however require even more sleep due to training loads and its effect on the body and mind.
Youth Athletes are Recommended to Have 10+ Hours of Sleep
Youth athletes are recommended to have 10+ hours of sleep to counteract training loads and maintain normal growth. Sleep allows for the mental state of athletes to rest and recover which entail the ability to learn, motivation, and memory of different skills they learned. The physical states include the release of growth hormones, metabolism increase, and the decrease of inflammation in the body (Marshall and Turner).
Sleep Improves the Physical State of Athletes
With the release of growth hormones in the body it provides the essential chemical needs to promote muscle repair, muscle building, and bone growth, all in turn increasing performance and reducing the risk of injury. In athletes who sleep 8+ hours a night on a consistent schedule it has shown to increase performance 15-20% and decrease the risk of injury dramatically (Marshall and Turner).
Sleep Schedules are Important, Especially for Young Athletes
Sleep scheduling and preparations allow for an increased quality of sleep. It is very important to have a consistent sleep schedule for deeper sleep phases and recovery to occur at similar times each night. This consistency creates a stronger release of growth hormones in turn increasing recovery. It is important that 10-20 minutes before falling asleep people should stay off anything electronic and have all sounds off to reduce sleep disturbances. A dark room at or just below room temperature is also necessary for sleep quality, proper bedding must be kept in mind as well. Core temperature decreases during sleep results in blood flow among the skin increasing, resulting in more blood flow for muscle repair. These together will reduce sleep disturbances and allow for melatonin to be properly released by the body. This allows for sleep to occur more quickly and to get into the deeper phases of sleep where recovery increases.
Sleep Deprivation Effects the Mental State of Athletes
Sleep deprivation not only effects muscle repair and muscle performance, but it has a major effect on motivation, concentration, and overall attitude. These effects will have a huge impact on not just athletics, but on all aspects of life whether it is school, personality, or relationships. Having a proper sleep schedule and ensuring large amounts of high quality sleep can create the final aspect in athletics to complete high-level training programs to allow for athletes to be as successful as possible.
Sleep Is a Necessity
In conclusion, sleep is a vital part of athlete development both physically and mentally. For young athletes to be able to maintain motivation, a positive attitude, and recover physically from hard workouts, regular scheduled sleep of 10+ hours per night is not just recommended, but a necessity. Whether participating in gymnastics classes for kids, running track and field, or pitching a little league game, athletes of all disciplines need sleep.
Youth Fitness Manager