Importance of Sleep From JAG-One Physical Therapy

School is back in session and that means busy schedules are back on the calendar.

How important is sleep for an athlete? 

Although sleep is most times overlooked when planning out a training regimen, it should be considered as equally important as nutrition and physical conditioning. Sleep experts have been studying the effects of sleep deprivation for many years and have determined that the lack of sleep affects the athlete greatly in the following ways:

  • Slowed Reaction Times- A slowed reaction time of even one second due to mental fatigue from sleep deprivation can make all the difference on a lacrosse field. Sleep studies on athletes have shown that a single “all-nighter” has decreased reaction times by up to 300%. With that in mind, imagine standing in front of a goal when the lacrosse ball comes flying at you! Slowed reaction times lead not only to missed pass or goal opportunities, but can result in injuries as well.
  • Increased Injury Rates- While we sleep our bodies use this time to repair, regenerate and re-energize. After a long practice or game, when an athlete has fatigued their body and mind, sleep becomes crucial. Muscle fatigue and breakdown, which occurs after strenuous activity, needs adequate time to heal for the muscles to repair and regenerate before the next activity in order to refrain from injury. Elevated levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, has also been shown to interfere negatively with tissue repair and growth  As discussed above, sleep deprivation can also lead to slowed down reaction times which can lead to injury in the form of a collision with another player or being hit by a ball you didn’t see coming your way. 
  • Energy Storage- Glucose and glycogen (stored glucose) are the main sources of energy for athletes. In a healthy athlete, glucose is stored in the muscle and is released as the body is put under physical stress. Those who are sleep deprived may experience lower energy storage levels, which is needed to perform at peak levels in endurance events like lacrosse. 

With busy schedules, often sleep suffers and no one really thinks about the lack of sleep impacting peak performance.  Does it? 

In today’s fast-paced world sleep is thought of as a luxury as opposed to a necessity. This way of thinking needs to change, especially in the athletic population if a peak performance is expected out of the body every time it touches the lacrosse field. Please see above for negative effects of sleep deprivation. 

What are the recommended hours of sleep for youth and adult athletes/lacrosse players?

This is a hard question to answer because like with most things in the human body, number of hours of sleep needed is individually based, especially when we are talking about athletes. Sleep experts for many years have recommended 9-10 hours of sleep for the average adolescent or teen and 7-9 hours for the average adult, but those hours may need to be increased for the athletic population. Heightened physical demands are placed on an athlete’s body due to increased energy expenditures and fatigue of muscles following a workout and the proper sleep allotment will allow the body the time it needs to recover and re-energize. See below for a simple way to see if you are giving your body the right amount of sleep time. 

Is it curative? Or is it that our bodies just need sleep to function – and think clearly on the field?

As mentioned above sleep is when our bodies and mind take the time to rest and recover. Muscular fatigue is repaired, and cells are regenerated, our immune systems are strengthened, and our body and brains are re-energized to prepare for the next day’s events. 

Any recommendation for athletes training at an elite level? 

We always tell athletes, no matter what level they are performing at that they need to listen to their own individual bodies. It is great to read over how Michael Phelps prepares for his days in the pool or how Hope Solo prepares for the stress filled 90 minutes defending the goal, but their preparation and recovery tactics may not work for everyone. When preparing for a physically demanding game or practice it is important to ensure that you are hydrated before, during and after, are well fed and have given your body the proper nutrition to supply the body with energy throughout the game and are well rested not only the night before and after the event but for a few weeks prior and after. 

How do you know if you need more sleep? How would you know if you are sleep deprived?

An easy way to estimate number of hours of sleep needed can be determined by experimenting with your sleep schedule for a week or so. It can be assumed that you are getting the appropriate number of hours of sleep if you fall asleep gradually within 20 minutes of hitting the pillow and awake in the morning without the need for the snooze button or blaring alarm. On the opposite side of the spectrum, if you are finding yourself asleep before you even hit the pillow, yawning throughout the day and need to hit the snooze button three times or sleep through your alarm, you are not getting enough sleep.

Back To Shake School Lacrosse Clinic

Make sure you are leading the pack by perfecting the skills that will take you to the next level. We will be kicking it into high gear with a power hour of Shake School style skills and concepts for offensive and defensive players that will have you thinking outside of the box. We will create situations to grow your lax IQ and vision for sliding, and reading and reacting. Goalies will jump right into the mix and see shots from 1 v 1s to small-sided gameplay.
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About JAG-ONE Physical Therapy

JAG-ONE Physical Therapy is a comprehensive physical and occupational therapy company with locations throughout New Jersey, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Queens, Westchester, Rockland, Manhattan, Long Island, and Pennsylvania. The Company’s multi-specialty staff has been serving the Tri-State area for over 20 years and have developed a unique, care-first model of rehabilitation delivering high quality clinical outcomes for its patients. For more about JAG-ONE Physical Therapy, please visit