Iowa Sleep Blog

Why Sleep Is Important for High School Athletes

Monday, September 21, 2015

No matter what age you are, sleep is important. Making sure you are getting enough shut eye is extremely important for high school students, but it’s even more important for high school athletes. These athletes have a lot on their plates these days – hours of practices, games, training sessions, homework and keeping up with their friends and family. With all this going on, it can be easy for them to trade in a couple hours of sleep for extra time spent studying or socializing.

Since fall sports are in full swing in schools across Central Iowa, and sleep is extremely important for functioning properly, here are some things the body needs sleep in order to:

  • Repair muscles and essential tissues – When you’re maxing out in the weight room or setting personal records on the course, your body needs time to repair itself to be ready for the next work out. When we sleep, our bodies work their magic to repair muscles and tissues so you can do it all over again at the next practice.
  • Save memories for later recall – The brain uses sleep time as the opportunity to store and save memories for future recall. Without adequate amounts of sleep, you won’t be able to later remember that play coach drew up at the end of scrimmage.
  • Increase reaction time – Have you noticed you might not react as quickly to a pass or defend another player as well when you’re not well rested or fatigued? When you’re sleep deprived, your body can act similarly to the sensation of being drunk. This slows down your reaction times while at practice or during a game.
  • Decrease the chance of becoming depressed – The daily stressors of keeping up in the classroom, staying on top of homework, performing well during practices and games all while trying to have friends and a social life can cause anxiety and lead to depression. It’s important to make sleeping the recommended seven to nine hours a priority every night.
  • Decrease caffeine intake – If you’re big into using protein power for shakes after a workout or pre-workout energy tablets, double check the caffeine levels and try to avoid consuming them after a workout if it’s within four hours of when you’d like to fall asleep.

For coaches, it’s important to stress the need for your athletes to sleep. Scheduling an early morning practice may seem like a good way to get a practice in and your athletes up and moving in the morning. Instead, coaches should practices for the afternoon or early evenings when possible to allow their athletes to get enough sleep to perform at their highest level.

Sleep is important for the body in order to take care of itself and maintain daily functions. If you think a young athlete you know may not be sleeping well or just not getting enough sleep each night, the doctors at Iowa Sleep can provide you with ways to sleep better each night.

Have a question for us? You can use the form here to contact an Iowa Sleep doctor directly.