Sleep deprivation: is it worth your athletic performance?

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Carolyn Patterson

Choosing schoolwork over sleep can lead to decreased athletic performance

John Miller, Contributing Writer

Here at Blake, sleep is often sacrificed to keep up with grades. Various projects, papers and homework assignments often prevent students from having a sufficient amount of sleep. However, our lives do not only consist of academic pursuits, and sports make up a large part of our lives. It is commonly known that getting enough sleep is pivotal to success on the court or on the field. A study conducted by Eve Van Cauter (Ph.D.) from the University of Chicago Medical School, concluded that sleep deprivation negatively influences factors that are critical to athletic performance. A conflict emerges between athletics and academics: the pursuit and/or sacrifice of crucial sleeping hours.

I interviewed several athletes about their experience with sleep deprivation. When asked about sleep deprivation’s effect on his performance, a lacrosse goalie responded that “it’s harder to concentrate on making saves and my reaction time is also slower when I don’t have a lot of sleep”. In a response to a similar question, a varsity hockey player stated: “Sleep deprivation hinders your endurance and stamina significantly. I feel that when I don’t get enough sleep my sports IQ goes down and I don’t make smart plays, basically, I can’t perform to my full potential without enough sleep”.  Conor McDonough ’16 described some specific effects on his performance, “Getting enough sleep really helps out to have that extra reserve energy, without enough sleep I lack concentration and that affects all elements of my game”.

I also asked the athletes how they managed their sleep hours. The lacrosse goalie promptly stated that “School is the priority, if I have to stay up I will”. The varsity hockey player agreed (to an extent): “It depends on how late I stay up, I usually try to stay up and do my homework, but when it gets too late (around 11:30), I go straight to bed”. When asked about strategies in dealing with this sleep dilemma, all athletes agreed that cooperation with teachers is important in order to perform well in both the classroom and on the field.