Student Athletes and the Role of Sleep

by | May 13, 2021 | Blog

Let us talk about SLEEP and the role it plays for your student athlete…

For some families, children start sports at their community YMCA, little leagues, or local dance studios as early as 4 years old. From there local schools, then on to college. Families can spend anywhere between $250 – $50,000 or MORE on fees, uniforms, equipment, clinics, private training, travel, hotels, and food per child, per year. So how does this pertain to sleep?

According to, “Insufficient sleep and/or poor sleep quality can cause issues which affect physical and academic performance, cognitive function, recovery from training and injury and your mental and cardiometabolic health. The busy life of the student athlete is very often not compatible with the time requirements of restorative sleep. Travel, academic and athletic timetables, team meetings, assignments and exams can all affect consistency in optimal sleep hygiene for the student athlete.”

Insufficient sleep and sleep disturbances have been shown to affect the following:

Athletic Performance: Poor sleep is associated with delayed reaction time, increased perceived effort, fatigue, and mood disturbances.

Injury/Illness: Better sleep may reduce the risk of both illness and injury in student athletes. Several studies show that optimal sleep is associated with lower odds of musculoskeletal injuries and college students tend to report more medical illnesses when their sleep habits are poor.

Academic Performance: As sleep deprivation can impair cognitive performance it is no surprise that better sleep is associated with greater academic success. adds that “chronic sleep deprivation has been correlated with a 68% greater risk of sports related injury over the course of a 21 – month period compared to athletes with similar training loads getting a sufficient amount of nightly sleep.

Sleep is often ignored and compromised by athletes as a result of their busy schedules, travel, games being played at a variety of times, the intrusion of technology (cell phones, computers and tablets) and other external demands (family etc.) in their life. Late night games, technology and external demands can inhibit normal sleep physiology and foster a heightened state of arousal, which acts as a barrier to the onset and maintenance of the sleep state.

Many of the world’s greatest athletes eat, sleep, breathe, and live for their sport. But did you know that in addition to physical conditioning and conscious eating, sleep plays a major role in athletic performance and competitive results? The quality and amount of sleep athletes get is often the key to winning – but how do you become a better sleeper?”

And that my friend is the MILLION DOLLAR QUESTIONHow do you become a better sleeper?

Let us learn a new term shall we? Sleep Hygiene. Sleep hygiene means having both a bedroom environment and daily routines that promote consistent, uninterrupted sleep. Keeping a stable sleep schedule, making your bedroom comfortable and free of disruptions, following a relaxing pre-bed routine, and building healthy habits during the day. shares with us ways to optimize your bedroom:

  • Supportive Mattress and Pillow: Your sleeping surface is critical!!
  • Use Bedding that helps keep you cooler as you sleep
  • Set a Comfortable Temperature (around 65 degrees)
  • Block Out Light
  • Drown Out Noise

While everyone can benefit from quality sleep, children rely on it to fuel their rapid growth and learning. Children also tend to need more sleep than adults. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends sleep hours based on age groups. Younger children usually require more sleep, with AAP advising 10 to 13 hours of sleep per day for children between 3 and 5. Older children tend to need less sleep. The AAP suggests children between 13 and 18 need 8 to 10 hours of sleep per day.

Selecting the right mattress can help your child sleep comfortably and get the good night’s sleep they need. Many of the same mattress considerations that impact adult mattress decisions can play a role in what mattress is best for your child. Factors like the mattress’s firmness, pressure relief, temperature neutrality, edge support, and the child’s preferred sleep position may influence your mattress choice.

So often, we find ourselves not wanting to invest the money in a proper mattress for our children because we have convinced ourselves, they are just children, they are not mature enough to properly take care of expensive things, they still have nighttime accidents, and so many more reasons. The truth is, our kids need a BETTER mattress than we, their parents, do.

Newborns learn circadian rhythms, the sleep-wake cycles regulated by dark and light. Infants learn sleep independence. Toddlers experience a time of increased motor, cognitive, and social abilities. They are establishing imagination and independence, which affects their sleep habits. Preschoolers and school aged children, REM sleep has decreased. Teenagers’ circadian rhythm shifts, causing a delay in sleep timing. The most satisfying and restorative sleep takes place when you are a young adult. In your early twenties, you get most Stage III (slow wave) sleep, which is the deepest and most restorative sleep.

If we are willing to invest THOUSANDS of dollars into our children through sports, shouldn’t we back up that investment by providing and teaching children proper sleep hygiene? Your child’s development starts with SLEEP, we recommend giving them the best you can!

Happy, Healthy Sleep, Y’all!

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