Sleep is a vital part of every human’s life. Without good and restful sleep, a person will become disoriented, tired, and stressed. If you want to have good physical and mental health, you must ensure that you get enough sleep. Sleep is one of the ways that elite athletes recover from the intense training that they have to do almost daily. The quality of sleep in young athletes determines how well they will perform.
However the historical perspective on the study of human sleep didn’t always link the importance of the quality of sleep to performance.
Before 1952: The time before 1952 can also be called the “prehistoric” period of the study of sleep. At the time nearly every biomedical scientist thought that sleep happened when the darkness and silence of night made it impossible for the brain to maintain a waking level of activity after being bombarded by sensory stimulation all through the day. This idea that sleep was caused by the brain being “turned off” led to the inaccurate conclusion that sleep was an entirely homogenous state.
1952–1970: During this era, scientists explored sleep more thoroughly. They discovered that binocularly synchronous rapid eye movements occurred during sleep. Studies were published about the deprivation of rapid eye movements, or REM and the phenomenon associated with them. Other scientists began to investigate the importance of all-night sleep and discovered that “pressure” was developed if REM sleep was prevented from occurring that obstructed performance.
1971–1980: This decade was important and can be considered as a period of defining the field of sleep medicine. Medical investigation was extended to include the sleeping patient and understand the determinants of daytime alertness. It was discovered that the quality of sleep and not just the number of hours of sleep one got was responsible for excessive daytime sleepiness and performance.
1981–Present: Since then, there has been a lot of research, expanding and organising sleep medicine. Sleep physiology, sleep deprivation, and sleep disorders, particularly obstructive sleep apnoea, have been studied and brought completely into the mainstream of medical practice and the public health arena. It has brought the importance of quality sleep to the forefront and has explored the depth of diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders. It has also been discovered that there may be links between lack of quality sleep and cardiovascular disease as well as the possibility that sleep disorders may be a causal factor. Scientists have also learnt that undiagnosed sleep disorders and pervasive sleep deprivation are arguably one of the biggest contributors to many health problems.
To ensure that as an athlete, your body continues to heal and perform at the optimum level, make sure you follow these tips to get quality sleep each night.
- Getting enough sleep each night is crucial. For teenagers, 8 to 10 hours is recommended. For children aged 5 to 12, nine to twelve hours of sleep is best.
- Establishing a regular sleep schedule. The schedule helps the body and the brain know when it is time for bed and time to wake up. The same hours should be kept even on the weekends.
- Having a few minutes of relaxation before bed is advisable. For instance, they can practice meditation, have a warm shower, or read a book an hour before bed.
- A comfortable sleeping environment is crucial. The room should be dark, quiet, and have the right temperature. Your mattress should be supportive, find out more about Purple mattresses.
- No electronics an hour or two before bed. That means no phones, TV, tablets, etc before bed.
- Avoiding large meals and caffeinated drinks before bed.
Dement WC, The study of human sleep: a historical perspective, Thorax 1998;53:S2-S7.