Everyone knows that getting enough shut-eye is important. Many people do not realize, however, how very important it is for athletes especially.
One hockey team, though, does know the value of sleep. That team is the San Jose Sharks, which actually won the most away games in the 2015-2016 season. The team believes in the power of sleep and credits getting enough rest for its success, at least in part.
The team even has a “sleep expert” that they call on for help and advice on getting the best and most restorative sleep possible. The Sharks get their expert advice from Cheri D. Mah from the Human Performance Center at the University of California San Francisco.
Mah believes that proper sleep can enable athletes to play better can improve cognitive performance, and can be beneficial for maximizing training effectiveness, improving recovery time, and improving general health.
While not everyone necessarily agrees with Mah, it seems that her “sleep strategies” have worked quite well for the Sharks, and they could work well for the young athlete in your life too. So, what can you do to help your little hockey player get adequate rest?
Count the Hours
First things first, young athletes need to make sure they’re getting enough consecutive hours of sleep. So, set and stick to a bedtime that allows for at least ten hours of uninterrupted sleep.
Have “Wind Down” Time
One way to make sleep more effective and invigorating is to have a “wind down” routine. Mah has the players she works with do a half hour of gentle stretching or yoga to transition into “sleep mode.” You could try these practices with your young athlete, but really, any relaxation routine will do, even if it’s just reading a story or listening to soft music.
Make Napping Okay
Finally, never underestimate the power of naps! Napping is completely healthy and is an easy way to sneak in a little extra sleep. You don’t have to have set nap times, but whenever young hockey players are tired, they should be encouraged to get a little extra shut-eye.
Following these simple tips can be surprisingly effective at improving sleep and, by extension, improving athletic performance, so why not give them a try? After all, they worked for the Sharks!