Robert Lawrence is the producer of the video above and the paper below. His research into student-athletes suffering from sleep deprivation was fueled by his 11 years of experience on the City of Birmingham School Board (operational positions included President, Vice President, Treasurer, and Trustee) and because he is the father of two swimmers.
The articles in our “Shouts From the Stands” series are not written by SwimSwam and are not necessarily our opinions, however we believe they are well argued points from our readers. If you have a Shout you would like to share, please send them to [email protected]
Sleep: Mission Impossible
Eliminate Morning Practice During School: Improve Health, Mood, Academic and Swimming Performance!
I believe that the coaches of our athletic programs seek “on-field” success while simultaneously promoting academic excellence and good character development. I also believe our community expects our high schools to challenge our children with a rigorous college preparatory curriculum. I feel, however, that the district has silently endorsed a practice that undercuts the academic, psychological, and physical d!evelopment of our athletes. This “practice” is the 5:45 am to 6:45 am workouts during school days.
In isolation morning practices are not harmful, but coupled with after school sessions and academic demands they force athletes to choose between losing sleep to study, or losing study to sleep. The “choice” of skipping 5:45 am practice is not an option if an athlete wants be on the “A” team. Universally the choice is to lose sleep.1 That choice is proven to harm our children’s health, academic, and athletic performance. Conversations with parents whose children participate in 5:45 am practices describe exhaustion, anxiety, d!epression, and near “mental breakdowns” over the course of a typical season.
Researchers, including the National Institue of Health, have shown that teenagers require a minimum of 9 to 10 hours of sleep per day.2 Classes run for 8 hours, and afternoon practice blocks off 3 1/2 hours. High School homework averages 3-4 hours per day. To meet these demands while attending a 5:45 am workout there is only about one hour available for homework. Given the choices, the only variable students can control is to sacrifice sleep (see chart 1), this creates timelines where the best an athlete could hope to achieve is 6 to 7 hours of sleep; 25% to 40% less than required. This often carried over to non-am practice days when sacrificed homework time is “crammed – in.” These choices initiate a cycle of chronic, and extremely detrimental, sleep loss. The sleep deprived tend to downplay the impact which helps “justify” the “sacrifice”, but the negative results are measurable and persistent. For an adult these shortened sleep cycles might be within a manageable range, but for the developing mind of an adolescent the sleep deficit i!mpact is substantial, and cumulative.
Even nominal sleep deprivation has negative health and athletic performance impacts:
- A 25% reduction in required sleep produces stronger inflammatory responses in women4
- Sleep debt – the accumulation of insufficient sleep – is difficult to “pay back” and can take months to mitigate by adding back proper sleep times 5
- Sleep deprivation in teens is linked to lower levels of growth hormone 6!
- A 2010 study by the journal Sleep found that teens who go to bed after midnight are 24% more likely tosuffer from depression and other illnesses. 7
- American Academy of Pediatrics research shows higher injury rate for adolescent athletes getting lessthan 8 hours of sleep per night. 8
- Authors Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman book, NurtureShock, link the loss of one hour of sleep to the !loss of two years of brain power. 9
These represent a small sample of the universe of research and studies documenting the negative impact o!f sleep deprivation.
Several studies that show how supporting the recommended sleep times can improve sports and academic performance:
- Later start times for high school improve standardized test scores 10
- With extra sleep (extended to 10 hours per night) Stanford’s University men’s and women’s swim teamsshowed significant improvements in measures of athletic performance and mood (similar results were found in testing of Stanford’s mens’ varsity basketball team 11); the following metrics showed improvement: (Study Summary Attached)!
• Swam a 15 meter sprint 0.51 seconds faster!• Reacted 0.15 seconds quicker off the blocks!• Improved turn time by 0.10 seconds! !• Increased kick strokes by 5.0 kicks!I am not opposed to morning workouts, but I am opposed to morning workouts during the academic year where school demands compete with sports demands.12 The academic, afternoon practice, and school schedule make is mathematically impossible for our athletes to reach even the research supported MINIMUM amount of healthy sleep. We cannot continue to endorse this situation given there is no s!cientific evidence of morning practice efficacy? 13 !What are the alternatives?!There are three givens which must be stated prior to offering alternatives. 1) High School age children should be given the opportunity to achieve a minimum of 9 to 10 hours of sleep per night, 2) School times should be adjusted to a later start, but until the State of Michigan, or all Oakland County Schools, implement this change it cannot happen in isolation. 3) School hours and homework requirements continue to be the primary variable assessing available hours-in-a-day calculations. Holding all things constant, there is only 1 hour in the day for homework with 5:45 AM practices. The only hope of providing sufficient t!ime for school, afternoon practice, and study time is to eliminate AM practice. !To ensure our coaches and athletes can achieve success several commitments must be made:
- If “over lapping” groups are required to balance lane time (due to high participation), the district must support the addition of qualified assistant coaches if needed
- Professional development will be provided for coaches to research and implement effective changes to training techniques
- To keep coaches aware of school demands, the district will inform and keep coaches apprised of heavy !testing dates that will impact their athletes (AP’s, ACT, etc.)!The deleterious impact of sleep deprivation14 driven by high home work demands coupled with 5:45 am practice schedules creates an imperative for change if we are to be true to the districts mission of ensuring educational excellence. The Stanford research shows that not only will this improve our students overall health, it will also improve their athletic performance, a rare win-win.
- 1) Siri Carpenter, American Psychological Association. Sleep deprivation may be undermining teen health. October, 2001, Vol.32, No. 9 (page 42) (http://www.apa.org/monitor/oct01/sleepteen.aspx)
- 2) National Institutes of Health (http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sdd/howmuch.html) Other studies support arange of 8.25 to 9.75 hours.
- 3) Hans P.A. Van Dongen, PhD; Greg Maislin, MS, MA; Janet M. Mullington, PhD; David F. Dinges, PhD, The Cumulative Cost ofAdditional Wakefulness: Dose-Response Effects on Neurobehavioral Functions and Sleep Physiology From Chronic SleepRestriction and Total Sleep Deprivation, (http://www.journalsleep.org/ViewAbstract.aspx?pid=25803), January 2003
- 4) Irwin, 2008 via John Mullen (Science of Performance: Morning Workouts Worth Sleep Deprivation? Pt3) 2/25/2013!
- 5) Dr. William Dement, M.D., Ph.D Stanford University, Sleepless At Stanford, (http://web.stanford.edu/~dement/sleepless.html)September 1997
- 6) Gabrielle Brandenberger, et al, “Effect of Sleep Deprivation on Overall 24 Hour Growth Hormone Secretion,” The Lancet,October 21, 2000.
- 7) Journal Sleep Volume 33, Issue 1 (http://www.journalsleep.org/ViewAbstract.aspx?pid=27669)
- 8) AAP Abstract: Lack of Sleep Tied to Teen Sports Injuries (10/21/2012)
- 9) From New York Times, What Do Students Need Most? More Sleep. January 15, 2014
- 10) Vicki Ables and Abigail Baird, Ph.D Washington Post, Sleep derivation and teens: “Walking Zombies”, 3/10/2012
- 11) CheriD.Mah,MS;KennethE.Mah,MD,MS;EricJ.Kezirian,MD,MPH;WilliamC.Dement,MD,PhD,TheEffectsofSleepExtension on the Athletic Performance of Collegiate Basketball Players, (http://www.journalsleep.org/ViewAbstract.aspx?pid=28194)March, 2011
- 12) G. Jon Mullen, Science of Performance: Are Morning Workouts Worth the Sleep Deprivation (Part 5), (http://www.swimmingworldmagazine.com/news/science-of-performance-morning-workouts-worth-sleep-deprivation-pt-5/), 4/09/2013
- 13) Swimming Science (http://www.swimmingscience.net/2014/02/replace-morning-workouts-today.html), Feb, 2014
14) Mary Carskadon, Ph.D of the Bradley hasbro Children’s Research Center, from Science Daily, Lack of Sleep Can Affect
Athletic Performance in Teens, (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/05/050511072041.htm) 5/11/2005
A!dditional resources are attached
- 1) Stanford University Abstract: Varsity Swim Team Study
- 2) Health Advisory: American Academy of Sleep Science
- 3) Report American Academy of Pediatrics
EXTENDED SLEEP AND THE EFFECTS ON MOOD AND ATHLETIC! PERFORMANCE IN COLLEGIATE SWIMMERS!
Mah CD, Mah KE, Dement WC
Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA
Relatively few studies have clearly elucidated the immediate and long term effects of extended sleep. In particular, little research has thoroughly investigated the impact of multiple nights of extra sleep over a prolonged period of time and specifically, how extended sleep affects athletic performance.
In this ongoing study, five healthy students (age 18 – 22) on the Stanford men’s and women’s swimming teams established a two week baseline in which they maintained their usual sleep/wake patterns. Athletes then extended their sleep to 10 hours per day for 6-7 weeks. Following each regularly scheduled swim practice, swimmers were assessed for athletic performance including 15m sprint, reaction time off the block, and turn time. To monitor daily sleep/wake activity, actigraphy and self-reported sleep logs were recorded throughout the study. The Epworth Sleepiness Scale assessed daytime sleepiness and the Profile of Mood States(POMS) monitored weekly changes in mood.
Indicators of athletic performance significantly improved following the extended sleep period. Improvements included faster 15m sprint (6.98 ± 0.99 seconds at baseline, 6.47 ± 0.64 seconds at end sleep extension, p<0.05), faster reaction time (0.88 ± 0.20 at baseline, 0.73 ± 0.13 at end sleep extension, p<0.05), improved turn time (1.10 ± 0.20 at baseline, 1.00 ± 0.22 at end sleep extension, p<0.05), and increased kick strokes (26.2 ± 1.53 at baseline, 31.2 ± 1.84 at end sleep extension, p<0.05). Swimmers also demonstrated mood improvements including POMS vigor ratings (42.9 ± 3.80 at baseline, 65.3 ± 5.08 at end sleep extension, p<0.05) and decreased POMS!
fatigue scores (57.9 ± 4.86 at baseline, 34.1 ± 0.22 at end sleep extension, p<0.05). Epworth scores decreased from 11.0 ± 3.32 at baseline to 2.40 ± 2.07, p<0.05 at end sleep extension.
Significant improvements in measures of athletic performance and mood were observed in collegiate swimmers after extended sleep.
SLEEP, Volume 31, Abstract Supplement, 2008! http://www.journalsleep.org/PDF/AbstractBook2008.pdf
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that adolescents get a little more than nine hours of nightly sleep for optimal health and daytime alertness during the critical transition from childhood to adulthood. In puberty a natural shift occurs in the timing of the body’s internal “circadian” clock, causing most teens to have a biological preference for a late-night bedtime. It is important that parents and local school boards work together to implement high school start times that allow teens to get the healthy sleep they need to meet their full potential.
Adopted by the AASM Board of Directors: Feb. 17, 2014
Health Advisory: Teen Sleep Duration and School Start Times
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) is a professional membership society that improves sleep health and promotes high quality patient centered care through advocacy, education, strategic research, and practice standards (www.aasmnet.org).