The Need for Sleep - in High School Football Players
Did you get 8 hours of sleep last night? Probably not.
According to a recent sleep study, an average high school student gets around 7 hours of sleep a night. Nowhere near the recommended 9-10 hours a night suggested for a teen. But what if I told you something as simple as sleeping could improve your performance on the football field? That's right, getting enough shut eye can enhance your athletic performance. And here's why :
1. Your body produces 60-70% of your testosterone and Human Growth Hormone (HGH). These hormones are known for their aid in regeneration of cells and the ability to restore damaged cells.
2. Your immune system strengthens which helps your body fight illness.
3. Your stress level decreases, which in turn lowers the levels of cortisol released. Cortisol is a steroid which plays a large part in the breakdown of muscle. Lower cortisol levels, mean less muscle breakdown.
4. Your brain neurotransmitters are replenished and brain pathways are strengthened. With adequate sleep you will be able to recall plays easier, handle fatigue better, and increase your reaction times.
Sleeping 4 hours a night for 1 week can decrease your reaction time by nearly 3 times. So pulling that “all nighter” may seem like a great idea now, but just 1 night of sleep deprivation can cause emotional instability to set in. This means you will perceive fatigue differently. You won't be able to work as hard in practice or retain information as easily. After 1 week of not getting adequate sleep your information processing is decreased. You may feel great, but your decision making, play calling, or reaction time is already diminished. After 2 weeks, your cardio performance decreases by at least 11%.
Quantity of sleep has proven to be important, but lets not forget about the quality of sleep. I'm going to leave you with 6 tips to improving sleep quality
Ideal sleep temperature is between 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit
Maintain a sleep routine and try to go to bed and get up at the same time each day
Stop eating at least 2 hours before bed
Dim the lights and reduce the amount of time in front of electronics 1 to 2 hours before bed
Have trouble falling asleep? Try a warm epsom salt bath (Bonus: epsom salts help relax sore muscles)
Invest in a good mattress and pillow