Stop Checking Facebook Before Bed.

A young woman working late at night with her laptop in her bed.

Sleep. How important is it? Are you getting enough and is it good quality?  Do you schedule it into your weekly training plan?

Most youth athletes don’t sleep enough, yet it’s crucially important to their success. A recent study highlighted 5 key ways that sleep loss will negatively influence your performance.

  1. Decreased recovery. A reduction in sleep quality and quantity can upset the way your body’s growth hormones are released during the phases of deep sleep, slowing the regeneration of muscle tissue.
  1. Increased injury risk. Athletes who spend less than 8 hours of sleeping at night are 1.7 times more likely to get injured.
  1. More sickness. Sleep loss can break down your immune system making you more susceptible to the common cold, which usually means time off training.
  1. Slower thinking. The ability of your brain to make quick and accurate decisions is significantly reduced when you are tired.
  1. Slower learning. Sufficient sleep following technical training sessions will increase your ability to pick up new skills faster.

Given that sleep is so important, here is a helpful checklist to make sure are getting enough of it.

  • Keep a regular schedule as often as possible. Syncing you body’s natural sleep-wake cycle is one of the most important strategies for achieving a good sleep.
  • Turn off your smartphone and tablet at least 60 minutes before bedtime. Light from mobile devices can delay or even stop the production of melatonin, a hormone produced by your body at night that plays the key role in helping you sleep.
  • Avoid eating high fat foods as they can reduce total sleep time. On the other hand, diets high in protein will increase your sleep quality. A warm glass of milk an hour or so before bed is a great idea.
  • Avoid drinking too much liquid in the evening. Being overly hydrated may disturb your sleep as a result of waking up several times to pee.