How much should a 14 year old athlete sleep?

Getting enough sleep is critical for a 14 year old athlete. During sleep, the body repairs itself and restores energy levels. Without adequate sleep, athletes may experience decreased performance, slower reaction times, and increased risk of injury.

How Much Sleep Do 14 Year Olds Need?

The National Sleep Foundation recommends that 14 year olds get 8-10 hours of sleep per night. However, many teens struggle to get enough sleep due to busy schedules, homework, electronic use before bed, and shifting sleep-wake cycles during puberty.

Studies show that few teens actually get the recommended amount of sleep. One study found that less than 8% of high school students sleep 8.5-9.5 hours on school nights. Most get 7-8 hours per night.

Do Athletes Need More Sleep?

Athletes may benefit from getting extra sleep compared to non-athletes. One study found that teen athletes who slept 8 or more hours per night were 68% less likely to get injured compared to athletes sleeping less than 8 hours.

Additional sleep helps athletes by:

  • Improving reaction time and coordination
  • Increasing energy levels and endurance
  • Reducing risk of illness or injury
  • Enhancing muscle recovery and repair
  • Improving cognitive function and concentration

The Australian Institute of Sport recommends teen athletes get 9-10 hours of sleep per night. Athletes in intense training may need up to 12 hours, including daytime naps.

Sleep Guidelines for Teen Athletes

Here are some guidelines for 14 year old athletes to optimize sleep:

  • Aim for 9-10 hours of sleep per night
  • Maintain a regular sleep-wake schedule, even on weekends
  • Take 20-30 minute naps to recovery from intense training
  • Avoid exercise, caffeine, and screen time in the evenings before bed
  • Keep the bedroom dark, cool, and quiet for better sleep
  • Develop a relaxing pre-bed routine, like reading or meditating

How Sleep Impacts Athletic Performance

Getting adequate sleep is vital for peak athletic performance. Sleep impacts many aspects of athletic ability and safety:

Reaction Time

Sleep deprivation slows reaction time and processing speed. Quick reaction time is critical in many sports for performance and injury prevention. Slowed reaction time impairs sports like football, soccer, basketball, tennis, and volleyball.

Coordination and Balance

Lack of sleep disrupts balance and body control, increasing injury risk. Sports like gymnastics, figure skating, and downhill skiing require precise coordination and control. Getting enough sleep helps athletes safely execute complex athletic skills.

Explosive Power

Sleep loss reduces muscle power and strength. Sports like sprinting, weightlifting, discus, shot put, and hockey rely on explosive power. Decreased power resulting from sleep deprivation negatively impacts performance in power and sprint sports.


Poor sleep negatively affects aerobic capacity and endurance. Sleep helps restore energy to muscles. Sports like distance running, swimming, cycling, and soccer require aerobic endurance. Lack of sleep can significantly reduce endurance capacity.

Injury Risk

Young athletes who do not get enough sleep are at increased risk of sports-related injury. Sleep loss impairs reaction time, coordination, balance, and muscle recovery. These factors combine to make injuries more likely when athletes are sleep deprived.

Immune Function

Sleep strengthens the immune system and reduces sickness. Athletes are vulnerable to upper respiratory infections and other illnesses when run down. Getting adequate sleep helps athletes stay healthy and train consistently.


Sleep is crucial for muscle recovery after intense training and competition. Growth hormone is secreted during deep sleep, which stimulates muscle protein synthesis and repair. Depriving young athletes of sleep impairs their ability to recover optimally.

Mental Focus

Sleep loss degrades mental focus, concentration, and memory. Sports like football, basketball, and baseball require sharp mental focus on complex plays and strategies. Getting adequate sleep helps athletes stay mentally sharp and focused.

Mood and Motivation

Not getting enough sleep can negatively impact an athlete’s mood and motivation to train. Sleep helps stabilize mood and reduce feelings of depression and anxiety. Maintaining motivation requires feeling well-rested on a daily basis.

Signs a Teen Athlete is Not Getting Enough Sleep

Here are some signs that a 14 year old athlete may not be getting adequate sleep:

  • Fatigue and daytime sleepiness
  • Mood changes like irritability or depression
  • Lack of motivation to train
  • Decreased performance during competition or practice
  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering plays
  • Increased perceived effort during training
  • Slowed reaction time
  • Clumsiness or poor coordination
  • Frequent illnesses or injuries
  • Consistently sore or aching muscles

Tips to Help Teen Athletes Get More Sleep

Here are some practical tips to help 14 year old athletes get the sleep they need to perform their best:

  • Set a consistent bedtime and wake time, even on weekends
  • Gradually adjust sleep schedule earlier by 15-30 minutes if needed
  • Block blue light from phones/tablets several hours before bedtime
  • Create an optimal sleep environment that is cool, dark and quiet
  • Establish a relaxing pre-bed routine like reading or meditating
  • Avoid caffeine, large meals, and exercise in the evening
  • Use sleep tracking to monitor sleep habits and make improvements
  • Take 20-30 minute power naps to recover from heavy training
  • Speak with a doctor if sleep problems persist for over 2 weeks

The Ideal Bedtime for a 14 Year Old Athlete

The ideal bedtime for a 14 year old athlete depends on their unique sleep needs and wake time. Here are some guidelines:

  • For 9+ hours of sleep, bedtime should be 8:30pm or earlier
  • For 10+ hours of sleep, aim for a bedtime of 8pm or earlier
  • Adjust bedtime earlier by 15-30 minutes if feeling tired during the day
  • Allow at least an hour to relax and wind down before trying to fall asleep

It’s also important for athletes to wake up at a consistent time, even on weekends, to stabilize their sleep cycle. Waking up at the same time reinforces the body’s natural sleep-wake rhythm.

Napping Guidelines for Teen Athletes

Napping can provide additional recovery and performance benefits for young athletes. Here are some nap guidelines:

  • Take short 20-30 minute naps to avoid grogginess
  • Time naps 3-4 hours after waking up in the early afternoon
  • Reduce nap frequency if having trouble sleeping at night
  • Take a nap before intense training sessions or competitions
  • Find a dark, quiet spot to nap like a bedroom or nap pod
  • Use a sleeping mask and earplugs to block out light and sound

Power napping improves alertness, concentration, and athletic performance compared to not napping. But napping too close to bedtime can make it harder to fall asleep at night.

Developing Better Sleep Habits

Teen athletes can develop better sleep habits and get more consistent, high-quality sleep with some simple strategies:

Stick to a Schedule

Going to bed and waking up at the same times every day programs the brain’s circadian rhythm for optimal sleep. Staying up late and sleeping in on weekends disrupts the sleep cycle.

Unwind Before Bed

Spending 30-60 minutes relaxed and screen-free before bed allows the body to wind down for sleep. Taking a bath, reading, or listening to calm music helps transition into sleep.

Limit Light Exposure

Exposure to phones, tablets, or bright lights before bed delays the release of melatonin, making it harder to fall asleep. Dim lights for 1-2 hours before bed for better sleep quality.

Control Sleep Environment

An optimal sleep environment is cool (65°F), completely dark, and quiet. Blackout curtains, a fan or white noise machine, and a quality mattress all promote deeper slumber.

Avoid Unhealthy Habits

Caffeine, large nighttime meals, and late exercise can disrupt sleep. Establishing healthy pre-bed habits improves nightly sleep consistency.

Power Down Electronics

Shut off all electronics at least one hour before bedtime. TV shows, social media, online games, and texting all stimulate the brain, delaying sleep onset.

Common Sleep Challenges for Teen Athletes

Many teen athletes struggle to get enough quality sleep at night. Some common sleep challenges include:

Late-Night Training Sessions

Evening practices, games, or training sessions can delay bedtimes. Completing exercise at least 2-3 hours before bed allows the body to wind down.

Academic Workload

Heavy homework loads and studying for exams often sacrifice sleep. Prioritizing sleep helps maintain focus and academic performance.

Social Activities

Hanging out with friends, dating, parties, jobs, and extracurriculars make it tempting to stay up late. Setting reasonable evening cutoffs preserves sleep.

Screen Time

Phones, TV, video games and the Internet stimulates the mind, delaying the release of melatonin. Avoid screens in the last 1-2 hours before bed.

Irregular Schedules

Shifting school/practice schedules, weekend sleep-ins, and daytime naps disrupt the body’s natural circadian rhythms.

Travel for Competition

Traveling across time zones, unfamiliar beds, and pre-game anxiety can all interfere with regular sleep habits.

Caffeine, Alcohol, and Meals

Consuming caffeine, alcohol, or heavy meals too close to bedtime disrupts the ability to fall and stay asleep.

Sleep Monitoring for Athletes

Sleep tracking can help athletes objectively measure sleep quantity and quality to optimize rest. Monitoring sleep over time provides insights into the impacts of training, travel, and competition on sleep.

Here are effective methods for athletes to monitor their sleep:

Sleep Tracking Apps and Devices

Wearable devices like fitness trackers and smartwatches provide key sleep stats like duration, phases, and restlessness. Many apps sync data from bedside sleep trackers as well.

Sleep Diaries

Recording details like bedtime, wake time, naps, and sleep quality in a journal helps identify sleep-disrupting habits over time.

Athlete Self-Reporting

Asking athletes to rate their energy, soreness, mood, and focus each morning helps gauge whether they are getting adequate sleep.

Reaction Time Testing

Measuring morning reaction time tests provides an objective assessment of whether an athlete is well-rested.

Analyzing sleep data enables athletes to find opportunities to improve sleep consistency and efficiency. Sports dietitians and coaches can also use sleep analytics to inform training and nutrition recommendations.

How Coaches Can Promote Healthy Sleep

Coaches play an important role in fostering healthy sleep habits for the adolescent athletes they train. Here are some tips for coaches:

  • Educate athletes on the importance of sleep for performance and recovery
  • Avoid late evening practices within 2-3 hours of typical bedtimes
  • Build nap breaks into busy tournament and travel schedules
  • Model good sleep habits like limiting coffee and setting a consistent bedtime
  • Check in on athlete sleep quality and adjust training if needed
  • Advise lighter training and more rest if an athlete appears overly fatigued
  • Refer chronically tired athletes to professionals to address underlying issues

Encouraging proper sleep hygiene helps young athletes maximize training gains while reducing injury risk and fatigue. Athletes are more likely to make sleep a priority when coaches demonstrate its importance.


Getting adequate sleep is essential for the health, safety, and athletic performance of 14 year old athletes. Teens need 8-10 hours of sleep per night, while athletes benefit from getting on the higher end of this range. Quality sleep optimizes recovery, concentration, coordination, speed, and endurance.

Coaches and parents play a key role in educating young athletes on prioritizing sleep. Setting earlier bedtimes, limiting evening screen use, and developing better sleep habits allows teens to get the sleep their mind and body requires. Monitoring sleep through tracking tools and athlete feedback helps customize recommendations for optimal rest.

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