skip navigation

Sleep & Time Management for Student Athletes

By Kristin Minasian, 10/30/17, 9:30AM PDT


Want More Sleep? The Importance of Rest for Athletes

Why You Need Sleep (+ How to Manage Your Time)

Want to be the best volleyball player you can be? Then you’ll need to be mentally alert and physically strong. For both of these things, sleep is crucial.

What happens when you sleep?

In 7 Ways Sleep Powers Athletic Performance, Dr. Michael Breus explains that sleep is a time for your body and mind to heal and grow stronger. A few of the key benefits that come with sleep include:

  • More energy (sleep increases glycogen, which is responsible for mental and physical energy)
  • Better focus (sleep improves cognition, hand-eye coordination, and reaction times on the court)
  • Repair of damaged tissue (sleep reconstructs the damaged muscle cells after a tough workout)

What happens when you don’t sleep?

Decades of scientific studies and research have shown that getting less than the recommended amount of sleep can lead to a host of horrific problems, like heart disease, a slow metabolism, and weight gain.

In your daily life, a lack of sleep means that your muscles won’t be able to repair themselves, making it easier for a sprain or strain to happen. Your brain will also have a harder time processing information, and you’ll be drained of glycogen (energy).  Plus, according to this study, sleep deprivation can have the same inhibitory effects as being drunk!

How much sleep do I need?

If you are 14, 15, 16, or 17, then you need 8 - 10 hours of sleep every night. If you are 18 or older, then you need 7 - 9 hours, according to the National Sleep Foundation (a U.S. non-profit organization dedicated to the science and research of healthy sleep habits).

But wait! How am I supposed to get 8 hours of sleep, with AP classes, volleyball, and other activities?

It may not seem like it, but it is possible to fit in school, volleyball, life, and 8 hours of sleep. Here’s how!


Time Management Tip #1: Write it down.

Long-term goals, short-term goals, volleyball-related, school-related – no matter what your “task” is, write it down! At night, reviewing the next day’s schedule will help to better understand what you need to do.

Also, monthly reviews (looking back at all you wrote the previous month) will boost your confidence and make you sure of what you can achieve in the next month!

Time Management Tip #2: Schedule a “no-phone” time (but also use your smartphone!).

Notifications can wait – trust me. Research shows that even having your smartphone within your line of vision can inhibit memory function. You don’t have to cut your phone use off cold turkey, though. Something as little as 1 hour a day without your phone can reap good rewards.

However, when used in moderation, smartphones can be great tools for time management.  Check out these awesome apps:

  • Finish: Great for those who love checking off items on their to-do list!
  • Focus Booster: Essentially a timer, that lets you record your sessions and review the day’s work.
  • 2do: Helps organize your tasks by section and subsection. Great for heavy course loads!

Time Management Tip #3: Give Yourself Wiggle Room.

“Strive for progress, not perfection.” Learn to love your mistakes, because they are the greatest teachers.

If you’re late for a study session because your friend sent you an adorable cat video, which led to 20 minutes of being sucked into the infinitely distracting vortex that is the internet (we’ve all been there!) – laugh it off! Think about what you can do so it won’t happen again, and then jump right back into your schedule. As with volleyball, let yourself be “coachable” in your time management habits.

Need More Motivation? Here’s How Time Management Affects Your Health

The field of psychology is rife with studies that link poor time management with poor mental health (such as this one, on how procrastination leads to negative mood changes). Stress, anxiety, depression, and even physical illnesses like chronic headaches can all result from procrastination and lack of sleep.

On the other hand, if you get 8-10 hours of sleep after a day of productivity, you’ll wake up in the morning feeling refreshed, energized, and ready to crush it! ◾

Written by guest blogger Kristin Minasian of Healthpointe, a multidisciplinary organization that specializes in sports medicine.