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Sleep & Athletes

As a member of both the Sports Medicine team and the Sleep Health and Insomnia Program in the Department of Psychiatry at Stanford, I regularly work with elite athletes struggling to get the sleep they need for optimal sports performance.

Sleep serves many important functions for physical and mental health. In elite athletes, getting sufficient high-quality sleep is paramount for optimal sports performance. Research shows that insufficient or poor-quality sleep impacts sports performance in many ways.

Poor sleep results in reduced speed, endurance, and accuracy. It increases risk of injury and illness and negatively impacts executive function - making game-time decision making more challenging. However, attaining sufficient good-quality sleep each night contributes to optimal physical condition, improved mental health, and increased athletic performance.


Unfortunately, many elite athletes struggle to get the high-quality sleep they need due the unique set of constraints they often face:

  1. Training schedules can be variable and time intensive.

  2. Practice times may eat into an athlete’s natural or preferred sleep schedule.

  3. Lengthy travel to competitions may impact sleep time and sleep quality.

  4. Jet lag results in the athlete needing to perform optimally during a time when the body would prefer to be asleep or is preparing for sleep.

  5. Pre-competition anxiety can increase alertness and make sleep more difficult to achieve or maintain.

  6. A culture of “sleep when you’re dead” pervades some teams or sports.


Together, we can create a comprehensive plan to help you identify and address the barriers to optimal sleep you currently face. Because each athlete’s individual needs, travel schedules, and training circumstances are unique, treatment plans will be uniquely tailored to you and will adapt as dynamically as your schedules does.


All treatment is evidence-based and well-supported by research.

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