Evening high school football game with fans in the bleachers and bright lights.

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Friday Night Lights Moms Need to Know These 6 Things

· Article

Friday Night Lights Moms Need to Know These 6 Things

Kara Fehring’s son Luke, 17, of Mayville, Wisconsin, was tardy to school more than ten times by the end of the 2018 school year. Luke plays football. His daily schedule starts with 7 a.m. weightlifting before school, and extends to after-school practice, dinner, homework and finally, bed.


“I tell him daily to get more sleep as it is hard to wake him every morning,” says Fehring. But like most Friday Night Lights (FNL) moms (named for the popular television show about Texas high school football, where games are often a Friday night event) she knows, there is barely enough time for Luke to get the sleep he needs.


Getting enough sleep can be hard for student athletes. A NCAA study shows that one-third of student-athletes get fewer than seven hours of sleep per night and report four nights of insufficient sleep per week. In a survey of 189 University of Arizona student-athletes, 68 percent reported poor sleep quality.


According to new research from GENYOUth and Sleep Number, nearly 3 out of 4 high schoolers, and 2 out of 3 middle-schoolers aren’t getting the amount of sleep their minds and bodies need.


Some professional athletes swear 10-12 hours nightly is the key to sports performance and recovery, as reported in the Huffington Post. For instance, Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals logs nine hours of sleep nightly.


“Student athletes maybe need more sleep than non-athletes because their recovery needs may be greater,” notes Michael A. Grandner, an assistant professor of psychiatry, psychology and medicine, and the director of the Sleep & Health Research Program at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. Sleep helps the body recover and repair after arduous physical exercise like football — more exertion means the body needs time, and potentially more sleep, to recover. Gatorade Sports Science Institute reports a lack of sleep can affect physical tasks requiring fast reaction times, and can cause a significant drop in performance. “It’s like asking why transmission fluid is important for a car — if you don’t have it, the car won’t run properly,” explains Grandner.


Like Fehring, you may already know your student athlete needs more sleep, but if you need to convince them, here are six reasons they should want to score more Zzzs.


6 Reasons Your Student Athlete Needs Sleep


  1. Sleep prevents injuries. Research in the Journal of Pediatric Orthopedics found a lack of sleep can contribute to player injuries. That’s good news for worried FNL moms. Remind student athletes to climb into bed early whenever possible to stay injury-free.
  2. Sleep helps muscle building and recovery. Sleep helps the body perform maintenance and basic cellular functions across many different organ systems, Grandner reports. Everything from your blood and digestive system to muscles relies on sleep. “Helping people see the benefits is one way to counteract the perception that sleep is unproductive time and not worth investing in,” encourages Grandner.
  3. Sleep means better accuracy and faster sprint times. Current Sports Medicine Report found that performance hinges on sleep. Increased sleep resulted in more competitive success. And the journal Sleep found that more sleep improved basketball players’ shooting accuracy and overall physical and mental well being.
  4. Sleep helps athletes make less mistakes. Research in the Annals of Neurology shows that sleep deprivation can affect decision making. Football requires thousands of split-second decisions on everything from whether to go for the interception or play it safe, so getting enough sleep can help athletes make fewer mistakes.
  5. Sleep may lengthen an athletic career. A study by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine found professional baseball players who slept the most had longer careers than those who reported less shut-eye. If your athlete has big plans for the future, more sleep may help him or her achieve their dreams.
  6. Poor sleep may increase physical & behavioral issues. Children and adolescents who don’t get enough sleep are at increased risk for obesity, diabetes, injuries, poor mental health, and attention and behavior problems, which can affect them academically. The Sleep Foundation notes that sleep “can even help [students] to eat better and manage the stress of being a teen.”


Encourage your student athlete to get more sleep, take naps, rest up on the weekends, and think of sleep as a crucial part of their training program to help make them a better player and person overall.



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