The Importance of Sleep for Young Athletes Who Travel

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For children who play on a travel sports team, sleep should be a top priority. Not only is ample shuteye important for physical and mental wellbeing, but getting a good night’s sleep can also improve a young athlete’s chances of doing well during the game. Sleep positively affects many areas of athletic performance, including speed, accuracy, and reaction time.

Ensuring that kids get enough sleep while traveling for a game may also decrease the chance that they get hurt on the court or field. In fact, children who get fewer than eight hours of sleep per night are 1.7 times more likely to get injured while playing their sport, compared with those who get eight or more hours of sleep. Use these tips to keep your athlete feeling rested and healthy while on the road.

1. Tackle homework on the go. Encourage children to finish their homework while traveling to the game so that there’s one less task to check off before bedtime.

2. Encourage napping. If a child gets too carsick to do homework on a bus or has finished all assignments, encourage your child to get a quick nap. A 30-minute nap may help your child feel more refreshed before a game—just don’t let the napping time go beyond much more than that, since excessive napping can make it harder to fall asleep at night. Pack a blanket and travel pillow in your child’s sports bag because it will be easier to nod off in transit.

3. Prepare pre-bedtime activities. Your child may be overly excited after a game, especially following a win, and may want to have a dance party rather than relax and hit the sack. Help with the wind down during the hour before bed with books, puzzles, and other relaxing activities.

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