By Coach Hadley, MV2.
It’s 12PM on a Friday night, and you just finished an episode of your favorite show on Netflix. You know you have to get up at 6AM for swim practice the next morning, but you decide to watch another episode for an hour because 5 hours of sleep is fine right? WRONG! For all the swimmers who are functioning on 5 hours of sleep each night, this article is for you.
I have been swimming with the Vikings for the past 7 years, but it wasn’t until last year when I started to get really serious about sports. I was a part of Burnaby Barracudas Water Polo, Pacific Storm Water Polo, the school varsity swim team, all while training for Nationals (for water polo) (2018) and the Junior Olympics (for water polo) (2017). As a result, my schedule was CRAZY! Having a consistent sleep was the last thing on my mind, but little did I know that it was the most crucial part of my training.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, the average teenager should be getting 8-10 hours of sleep each night. Here are a few things I do as a competitive athlete to try and achieve those 8-10 hours:
- DO NOT go on your phone at least a half hour before you go to sleep. The bright blue screen will mess with your melatonin (the hormone that your body releases to help you sleep). Try reading a book! Your snapchat streaks can wait until the morning 🙂
- DO take a nap during the day. Especially if you have a double practice that day. Taking a 30-minute nap will restore your energy and improve your alertness without interfering with nighttime sleep.
- DO NOT leave any homework or assignments to the last minute. I know from experience that if you are writing a paper at 10PM when it’s due at midnight, it will not be a well written paper and the stress will impair your ability to fall asleep. Make sure you set a reminder on your phone and make sure you give yourself plenty of time during the day to write.
Not only is sleep important for athletes at this level, but even the most elite athletes in the world need their beauty rest. For example, Usain Bolt. The fastest man alive. Nine Olympic gold medals, eleven-time world champion, and what’s his training secret??? Sleep!
“Sleep is extremely important to me – I need to rest and recover in order for the training I do to be absorbed by my body” – Usain Bolt.
So, whether you’re an Olympic athlete, or an aspiring BCSSA provincial champ, just remember that sleep is what is going to set you apart from your competition.