Going about your day after a night of little or interrupted sleep is The Worst. The ENTIRE day. Thankfully, you don’t get days like this too often, but when you do you have to battle all day with a fuzzy brain and grumpiness. But do you ever just feel out of sync on a regular basis? Your regular night’s sleep might play a role in that. Children age 6 through 13 need between 9 to 11 hours of sleep.
Especially when you’re an athlete balancing individual training, team practice, competitions, school, time for family and friends. Your safety, the safety of your teammates, your sense of fun and excitement all depend on your ability to focus; and sleep can play a big part in that.
Good sleep is critical for young athletes whose bodies are rapidly changing and exercised regularly at school, in play, and on the blue mat. While you sleep your body gets to work repairing stressed and strained muscles – you know that achy feeling the day after you’ve had a really good workout? Your sleep that night kickstarts your body to heal the achy muscles. And hormones – basically your body’s way of texting your organs what they should be doing right now – are released and regulated after a hard day’s work; these can affect your hunger, mood, growth, and your immune system.
It’s no coincidence that you feel sleepy when you’re sick! It’s your body’s way of giving your immune system a boost of strength to do its job, which is to fight off a virus. Regularly getting a good night’s sleep also gives your body the chance to nurture and develop your immune system so that it’s ready to do battle with the next cold you’re exposed to.
Feeling upset, angry, or annoyed for no reason? You might not be getting enough sleep. And sleep can help huge with your ability to focus on tasks and details, as well as your memory – which you need to memorize choreography, and to tumble and flip safely!
When you wake up to your alarm clock tired in the morning, that’s a sign that you need to go to bed earlier. To get a good night’s sleep, set up a routine and stick to it, even on weekends and holidays – young athletes in all sports know that practice and competition aren’t just for school days! Avoid screens when you start feeling tired, because the light from them can tell your brain to stay awake for just 5 more minutes on repeat. Wind down with quiet activities, like a bath, reading, or coloring, and eventually, your body should get the message that when you start to do these things at the end of your day that it’s also time to get tired. Talk to your coach and teammates for more tips!
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