Sleep is an essential nutrient of life.
Such is its importance, an increasing body of evidence now links poor sleep to chronic disease, including obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
What’s more (and not surprisingly), sleep plays a significant role in the performance and recovery of athletes.
Athletes don’t sleep enough.
And when they do, the quality of their sleep is often poor.
For instance, research from 2015 showed that out of 283 athletes interviewed, over half (52.3%) were experiencing disturbances to their sleep.
There are many reasons why athletes struggle with sleep, but here are the top 5:
- An increase in core body temperature after exercise
- An increase in tension and pain after training and competition
- Pre-competition anxiety
- Scheduling of training sessions late in the day
- A general increase in psychological stress.
Fortunately, the damaging effects of poor sleep can be minimised.
A recent study in the Journal of Sports Sciences that investigated elite cricket players showed that education on ‘sleep hygiene’ improved overall sleep quality and reduced athletes’ levels of daytime sleepiness.
The sleep hygiene education, while also discussing why sleep is so important and how it works, is focused on the following five practical tips:
- Maintain a regular bed and wake time;
- Ensure a quiet, cool and dark bedroom environment;
- Avoid caffeine and other stimulants prior to sleep;
- Avoid light-emitting technology devices in the hours prior to sleep; and
- Use relaxation strategies before bed.
If you’re interested in one of our Youth Athlete Sleep Workshops, you can enquire more about it here.