Getting Enough Sleep is Critical to Volleyball Success

Not quite able to get that elusive eight hours of sleep? Figure you’ll catch up on the weekend, once summer starts, or after the upcoming tournament ends? Maybe you just don’t think that sleep is that important in training and competition?

Well, if your goal is to optimize your athletic performance and increase your volleyball injury prevention, then wake up and read on.
It comes up during injury assessments.

I ask about it when an athlete is ill or has concerns about under-performance.

It is a staple of discussions during pre-participation physicals.

When athletes ask how they can grow taller, get bigger, or perform better, we talk about it.

What is this mysterious it?

It is sleep – by far the most important choice for injury prevention, stabilizing mood, performance enhancement, and post-exercise recovery. We all have to sleep, but those who get good amounts of high-quality sleep are putting themselves ahead of the competition.

How much sleep is important for school-aged athletes?

Colleagues from Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles found that adolescent athletes who slept more than 8 hours a night were 68% less likely to be injured than peers who did not get that much sleep per night.

Athletes who reached higher grade levels in school actually had higher injury risks. So, these sleep recommendations are even more important for older adolescents versus younger adolescents.
Sleepy athletes just don’t get hurt more often, they learn less, move slower, and get fewer benefits from all their training efforts.

Line up all the other supplements or performance-enhancing agents. They won’t work, or work nearly as well, if used by a sleep-deprived athlete.

Bring me the latest and greatest recovery techniques. None of them will likely stand up to sleep.

In fact, I will now measure the importance of recovery modalities on how they influence sleep.

So, if the time it takes to get or perform a recovery modality cuts into those 8 hours minimum, then I’m not as keen on it. If however, that modality might encourage more or better sleep (by calming the mind or reducing stiffness/soreness), then that is a more positive choice.

I think we can use these same standards for “extra” things – added classes, skills sessions, or conditioning/weight training. If they jeopardize sleep, then they jeopardize health and performance. If they help with sleep, then they help with health and performance.

Sleep Hygiene 101

  • Try to go to sleep the same time (or within ½ hour) every night.
  • Limit caffeine use in the late afternoons or evenings.
  • Use your bedroom for sleep and changing only. Try not to study, watch Netflix, or do too much else in the bedroom. Train your brain to view your bedroom as a sleep room.
  • Don’t have the time visible. Waking up and checking the clock can lead to poor sleep patterns and increase anxiety.
  • Don’t have electronics in the bedroom. Eliminate blue light, chirps, pings and other distractions.
  • Stop electronic use at least one hour before bedtime. Alert friends you are going off the grid- may make them have better sleep as well!
  • Maybe even put down that device more often during the day. Less checking of social media might mean homework gets done quicker and more time for sleep.
  • Do not use any supplements or medications for sleep without appropriate medical advice.
  • Don’t rely upon using weekends or breaks to “catch up” on missed sleep. Getting a longer or deeper amount of sleep one day cannot make up for poor sleep on previous or future days.
  • Develop personalized routines to reduce pre-game anxiety and difficulties falling asleep. This includes using those sleep hygiene cues and possibly visualization, breathing exercises, or other
  • techniques. Practice these techniques well before the big competition to have them ready to go when needed the most.

Do naps count in that daily sleep amount?

Yes, they do, especially if done right. A planned nap in the middle of the day for 30-45 minutes maximum can restore energy, reduce post-nap grogginess, and not delaying bedtime at night.

Final thoughts on sleep

Many athletes report awaking frequently during the night and not getting that key 8+ hours a night. Some athletes get the recommended 8+ hours but are still tired or fatigued.
Recently injured or concussed athletes may have unique sleep issues.
In these cases, it is highly recommended to schedule a medical evaluation to review sleep habits and hygiene.
Things such as tonsil/adenoid enlargement, overtraining, uncontrolled asthma/allergies, and other illnesses can contribute to poor sleep.
Sleep alone won’t put you on the podium, but without enough of it, all the other stuff just won’t matter as much.

Don’t rest on this: Getting enough sleep is critical to volleyball success

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