Skip to content

Sleep: the underrated PED

Aug 23, 2019

If there is ever an area of medicine  where a consensus can actually be pulled from, it is sleep. Sleep can be evaluated by looking at multiple variables such as: hours of sleep, quality of sleep and ability to restore  during sleep. In today’s day and age, Americans are experiencing less hours of rest as well as poor quality and the body struggling more and more to restore. In a world that turns to performance enhancing drugs (PED) are they missing the greatest drug of all?

As a sports dietitian it is vitally important for sleep to be a part of a training program. Pediatricians generally recommend a minimum of 8 hours of sleep. An  ideal scenario would be 9-10 hours of sleep for adolescents.For adult athletes however  the general consensus is 7-8 hours ,minimum.

A recent consensus statement focusing on sleep in college athletics found the following:

  • 42% experience poor quality  of sleep .
  • 51% reported high levels of excessive daytime sleepiness.
  • 70% of male & 82% of female athletes desire more sleep.
  • 57% reported insufficient sleep 3 out of 7 days of the week.
  • An additional 23% reported insufficient sleep 6 out of 7 days.

The Youth are not Immune

The well-known myth that youth are immune to consequences of insufficient sleep is just that, a myth. Poor sleep has been shown to delay reaction time and increase mood disturbances. The most powerful variable against athletic performance is perceived exertion; believed to be secondary to energy needed. The rate of perceived exertion is directly linked to when a person hits exhaustion and the ability to complete exercises within a sport.

Poor sleep has been linked to injury risk.Adolescent athletes who  received less than < 8 hours sleep were 1.7 times more likely to experience a musculoskeletal injury. It is hypothesized that this could be secondary to increase systemic inflammation. Lack of restorative sleep increases pro-inflammatory cytokines.

Lower sleep levels ,also, have a relationship with causes of anxiety and depression and insomnia. When treatment  began for anxiety & depression there was a vast improvement of symptoms toward mood and sleep.

How to get better zzzsss:    Image result for baby sleeping

  • Consistency is key even on the weekends. Establish a good routine and stick with it.
  • Bright when sunlight, and dark at night.
  • Your sleep sanctuary should be cool 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit, dark and comfortable.
  • Avoid caffeine at least 6 hours before bedtime. If you are caffeine sensitive, you may need more time between that cup of joe so it doesn’t leave you jolted.
  • Avoid nicotine as it is a stimulant.
  • Whereas alcohol is a downer however it disrupts that good restorative sleep.
  • Cover the clock. That brain will be doing math whether you want it to or not.
  • Save the sleepiness for bedtime which may mean avoid those catnaps.
  • Your bed should be for sleep and well you can fill in the ___.
  • Avoid other activities like playing on phone or watching tv
  • Generally, if you are unable to get to sleep in 30 minutes get out of bed. This helps avoid anxiety when you are struggling to get to bed.

Be sure to build in sleep to your daily schedule. Don’t leave it for when I am done with all my work then I go to sleep. This will pay off in the end when you are more efficient during the day, and your body is restored.

Leave a Comment





Becca McConville
AUTHOR • ATHLETE • NUTRITION THERAPIST

ReBecca McConville, MS, RD, CSSD CEDRD

"The life-long athlete in me wants to make sure that all athletes stay at the top of their game for as long as they choose to be in their sport. This book will keep athletes on track before your season starts, in the grind of the season, at the end of your season—and be ready to go for the next one."

Schedule a FREE 15-min Consult