One of those areas where research has shown by following some simple rules you can make a large difference in your life, from children to adults, recreational to professional athletes, young and old… it is an area where the simplest habits can make a noticeable difference in how you feel, perform and use your brain.
Research has shown that impaired sleep can have a negative effect across many physical and intellectual tasks.
If you read the article on Posture and using phones, tablets and computers and their effect on the body? then you know using them the wrong way can have a negative effect on your health. It seems that not only can overuse of electronics such as these cause problems to your posture it can also be responsible for disrupting sleep patterns when used late at night, prior to a person’s bedtime.
The national sleep foundation study (2) found that kids with four or more media devices in their rooms got a lot less sleep on both school nights and non-school nights. Interestingly enough these same students were more likely to have fallen asleep at school, or while doing homework and also felt tired during the day.
One of the biggest issues I come across regularly is kids (and adults) leaving their phones on during the night when they should be sleeping. Being continually woken from beeping messages and bright lights on screens when messages come through, which when measured (17) has been proven to be detrimental to the person and led to tired-ness during the day.
So let’s take a look at what happens with poor sleep and in particular school and performance…now remember parents – simply exchange the word school for your line of work and the problems are the same, it doesn’t discriminate?
School has changed a lot to when I attended, we worked and played hard back then, but now the increased emphasis on getting good grades, being in the right school and the share volume of work expected to be carried out by children in an effort to achieve all of this places kids under a huge amount of pressure.
This is where sleep comes in and can help on many levels, but first let’s take a look at what happens when your child (or you remember) get poor sleep.
Research has shown that reduced sleeping hours is associated with a number of different things (1,4,6,8,14,15,)
- Negative health – decreases the immune system, more sick days means less time in class
- Deterioration in higher cognitive performance such as Creativity, Problem solving and Abstract thinking
- Increased concentration problems and tired-ness
- Increased irritability and frustration
- Increased instances of Migraine
When you read this list you know straight away this is not good for a child’s school life or yours. The Scary part is that even one night of bad sleep can produce these problems.
Ok so we’ve looked at problems at school which are pretty bad when you take it all in, now let’s talk about our area sports.
There is an increasing amount of research coming out to support getting enough sleep and how this affects performance. In fact many professional sports teams such as Team Sky, Manchester United, Professional NFL, NBA Baseball and Hockey teams, Olympians follow specific sleeping protocols to ensure the right sleep is being encouraged.
Let’s get a little scientific for a moment, and go over why it is so essential.
In one study (3) it is cited that sleep is essential for a number of cellular, organic and systemic functions of the body. One of the reasons we may feel tired and not have the energy when it comes to our sports is that it disrupts your key muscle energy source Glucose. It has also been linked to an increase in cortisol secretion (this is one of your key stress hormones, which we don’t want to much of) and a decrease in protein synthesis.
I know that is all a bit of a mouthful but basically what it is showing is that, you have problems storing your energy, your body is more stressed and your muscles don’t recover from trainings and competition as well as they could not only this but have a negative effect on muscle growth.(5)
So where does this leave us, well a tired under-recovered child is not a good recipe for sports performance. Research has shown injuries alone become a problem. (9,10,12, 13,16)
- Poor sleep has been linked to an increase in accidental injuries.
- Increased rates of injury in sports following poor sleep (under 6 hours) has been shown.
- Chronic lack of sleep is associated with increased sports injuries.
Although not all evidence supports this (7), and further research needs to be carried out the consensus seems to be that it will have an overall negative affect on performance.
Studies (7,11), and those cited in (3) have shown that good sleep has improved sprint times, accuracy and cardiovascular performance,
Personally I think erring on the side of getting good sleep makes more sense and avoid trying to test against this research.
If you include what is happening at the brain level as well, decision making can also be possibly affected, and we’ve already shown that concentration is also decreased.
Not a recipe for a good sports performance.
Sleep Game Plan – Sleep Hygiene
No this is not about having a wash before bed, although it may help you feel better. Sleep hygiene is essentially the process of establishing a routine that helps to promote a good night’s sleep.
So what can you do to promote a good night sleep?
Here are 11 tips to set you up for ultimate sleep.
- Sleeping in a dark, comfortable environment around 19-21 degrees, too hot or too cold leads to restlessness, think goldilocks on this one, “just right” – each person is different so it’s important to find that temperature that works well.
- No T.V’s in the bedroom
- Limiting engagement to stimulating activities such as video games, mobile, technology, computers and T.V’s before bedtime – switching off one hour before is a good rule
- Turn your phones off or switch them to flight mode
- Limit or eliminate caffeine – this includes coffee, cola drinks, chocolate energy drinks etc
- Avoid Have dinner earlier – late night dinners that are large can cause sleep disruption
- Avoid going to bed hungry, this is also associated with interrupted sleep
- Decrease fluid consumption at night to avoid late night toilet visits
- Reading before bed instead of media helps relax the brain this is with abook, not a tablet!
- Writing a grateful list before bed on a piece of paper – this really works research has shown that people who are happier and think positive thoughts will sleep better, anxiety, worrying, and feeling sad causes disruptions in sleep which often results in a vicious circle being formed
How to write a grateful log
- Get a piece of paper or a notebook etc
- Write down the words “I am grateful for…”
- Fill the paper up with the list, importantly the following words after ‘I am grateful’ can be anything the person wishes, just something they are grateful about.
- In the morning through the paper out and do a new one the following night
It seems silly but it really works…and lastly the most obvious…
- Go to bed at a set time each night, aim for 9:30 – 10pm (depending on the age this can be an effort, but Tom Brady the very successful NFL quarterback has lights out at 9:30pm)
- Bruni, O., Galli, F., & Guidetti, V. (1999). Sleep hygiene and migraine in children and adolescents. Cephalalgia, 19(25 suppl), 57-59.
- Cain, Neralie, and Michael Gradisar. “Electronic media use and sleep in school-aged children and adolescents: A review.”Sleep medicine 8 (2010): 735-742
- Cummiskey, J., Natsis, K., Papathanasiou, E., & Pigozzi, F. (2013). Sleep and Athletic performance.European Journal of Sports Medicine, 1(1).
- Dahl, R. E. (1996). The impact of inadequate sleep on children’s daytime cognitive function. Pediatric Neurology, 3, 44–50. Dahl, R. E. (1998). The consequences of insufficient sleep for adolescents. Links between sleep and emotional regulation. Phi Delta Kappan, 80, 354–359.
- Dattilo, M., Antunes, H. K. M., Medeiros, A., Mônico‐neto, M., Souza, H. D. S., Lee, K. S., … & de Mello, M. T. (2012). Paradoxical sleep deprivation induces muscle atrophy.Muscle & nerve, 45(3), 431-433.
- Dinges, D. F., et al. (1997). Cumulative sleepiness, mood disturbance, and psychomotor vigilance performance decrements during a week of sleep restricted to 4–5 h per night. Sleep, 20, 267–277.
- Fullagar, H. H., Skorski, S., Duffield, R., Hammes, D., Coutts, A. J., & Meyer, T. (2015). Sleep and athletic performance: the effects of sleep loss on exercise performance, and physiological and cognitive responses to exercise.Sports Medicine, 45(2), 161-186.
- Könen, T., Dirk, J., & Schmiedek, F. (2015). Cognitive benefits of last night’s sleep: daily variations in children’s sleep behavior are related to working memory fluctuations.Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 56(2), 171-182.
- Koulouglioti, C., Cole, R., & Kitzman, H. (2008). Inadequate sleep and unintentional injuries in young children.Public Health Nursing, 25(2), 106-114
- Luke, A., Lazaro, R. M., Bergeron, M. F., Keyser, L., Benjamin, H., Brenner, J., … & Smith, A. (2011). Sports-related injuries in youth athletes: is overscheduling a risk factor?.Clinical journal of sport medicine,21(4), 307-314.
- Mah, C. D., Mah, K. E., Kezirian, E. J., & Dement, W. C. (2011). The effects of sleep extension on the athletic performance of collegiate basketball players.Sleep,34(7), 943-950
- Milewski, M. D., Skaggs, D. L., Bishop, G. A., Pace, J. L., Ibrahim, D. A., Wren, T. A., & Barzdukas, A. (2014). Chronic lack of sleep is associated with increased sports injuries in adolescent athletes.Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics,34(2), 129-133.
- Owens JA, Fernando S, Mc Guinn M. Sleep disturbance and injury risk in young children. Behav Sleep Med. 2005; 3:18–31.
- Pilcher, J. J., & Walters, A. S. (1997). How sleep deprivation affects psychological variables related to college students’ cognitive performance. Journal of American College Health, 46, 121–126.
- Sadeh, A., Gruber, R., & Raviv, A. (2003). The effects of sleep restriction and extension on school‐age children: What a difference an hour makes.Child development,74(2), 444-455.
- Stallones L, Beseler C, Chen P. Sleep patterns and risk of injury among adolescent farm residents. Am J Prev Med. 2006; 30:300–304
- Van den Bulck, J. (2003). Text messaging as a cause of sleep interruption in adolescents, evidence from a cross‐sectional study.Journal of Sleep Research,12(3), 263-263.
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