Last week, I explained to you why sleep was so important. I looked at several scientific studies that concluded that showed sleep could both hinder a player’s ability to perform, but also elevate performance. Check out that article here. To help you provide some practical steps towards enacting better sleep habits, I did some further research. This article provided by the Global Sport Development Foundation provides some ideas which I’ve summarized into 4 key points to help your players get more sleep:
1. Create a good sleep routine
Studies have shown that the idea of a “sleep cycle” is a very real phenomenon. Forcing your body to adapt night in, night out is a strenuous process. Also, anecdotal evidence of football players who played games at night found that exercise near bedtime led to difficulties falling asleep. Try to give your players adequate time (about 4 hours) to “wind down” to bed post practice i.e practice straight after school rather than at night. As a coach, you can make your player’s lives easier by establishing a regular training schedule from the start of the season.
2. Eliminate poor sleep habits
Taking caffeine or alcohol up to 4-5 hours before sleep can impact the night’s rest. Moreover, using the computer, or any other bright device before sleep can make it difficult for you to fall asleep. Remind your players of this, especially before a game day.
3. Embrace the nap
If your athletes aren’t getting enough sleep at night, naps may help. Studies of athletes that took half hour lunch time naps after getting just 4 hours of sleep the night before found that an improvement in sprint performance and alertness. But avoid naps before bedtime because of possible interference of the cycle.
4. Help your players deal with anxiety
Nerves can prevent your players from getting adequate sleep before a competition. A study of German athletes found almost two third reported their sleep being disrupted because they were thinking about an important game the next day. In lieu of demonstrating all the benefits of getting an adequate night’s sleep, I recommend that you check out our article about understanding pressure and how to deal with it .
One final tip: all the benefits of sleep apply to YOU too! Coaching is a stressful job and it’s equally important that you feel fully awake for each practice and game. Do you have any tips that help you fall asleep? We’d love to hear it on our Facebook or Twitter pages.
Until next time, see you on the courts!
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