How to Optimize Sleep for Soccer Players in 2024

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Written by Daniel Pena, Bachelors in Kinesiology and footballer: Learn More

How do you get a good night’s sleep as a soccer player? Improving your sleep quality is one of the most fundamental and best things you can do as a soccer player to improve your mental focus, performance on the field and recovery off it.

Oftentimes, soccer players at all levels of the game, from youth all the way to the professional, may not be taking advantage of our superpower called sleep. Along with the right training, breath work, nutrition, hydration, and supplementation, sleep is one of the aspects of life that by improving it, you can improve pretty much all other aspects of life.

In this blog, I will explain everything you need to know about how to improve your sleep quality.

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Why is Sleep Important for Soccer Players?

Soccer is one of the most physically and mentally demanding sports and high quality sleep can help you meet those demands. Scientific studies show that soccer players who get 7-8 hours of sleep per night experience enhanced physical and mental recovery, leading to sharper performance on the field.

Here are the many benefits of getting good sleep. The better your sleep get daily, the more you will feel these benefits, which means you can’t expect to take care of your sleep for one day and not the rest of the week and get the same results. Consistency is key.

  • Improved physical performance
  • Improved cognitive function
  • Improved physical and mental recovery
  • Decreased physical and mental stress
  • Decreased risk of injury
  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Faster reaction times and decision making
  • Better energy levels
  • Improved mood

Not getting enough sleep daily, getting a bad night’s sleep, and/or becoming sleep deprived , even partial sleep deprivation, has many negative effects such as:

  • Decreased physical and mental performance and recovery
  • Increased injury risk
  • High blood pressure
  • Weaker immune system
  • Slower reaction time and decision making skills
  • Increased stress levels
  • Mixed and inconsistent mood and energy levels

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The Circadian Rhythm Explained

Now that you know the benefits of sleep, to help you better understand how to improve your sleep quality it is important to first understand the circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is your internal biological clock that governs your sleep-wake cycles and it operates on roughly a 24-hour cycle.

The circadian rhythm is primarily influenced by sunlight and darkness, or lack of sunlight. These natural light and dark cycles are what tell our bodies what time of the day it is and what functions and hormones to prioritize. Check out this video to learn more about circadian rhythms.

Aligning your circadian rhythm, which means respecting the light and dark cycles we live in, will not only improve your sleep quality and quantity, but your mitochondrial function as well.

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Sleep Hygiene Tips for Soccer Players

When it comes to sleep both sleep quantity and sleep quality are equally as important. The goal is to get 7-8 hours of high quality deep sleep, which means you sleep the whole night, without waking up in the middle of the night, and you wake up energized ready to take on the day.

These are some of the best sleep tips to help you align your circadian rhythm and get better sleep.

  • Have a set sleep schedule
    • Go to sleep and wake up at the same time, or around the same time, every day
    • Make this a routine because the body likes routines and patterns.
  • Get 7-8 hours of high quality total sleep duration
  • See the sunrise and sunset as much as possible, ideally every day
  • Make sure you get outside for at least 10 minutes during the first hour after the sun rises, or as the sun is rising
    • Morning sunlight has a good amount of red light wavelengths that will begin melatonin production which is what will help you fall asleep at night.
    • This means that morning sunlight will help you fall asleep easier at night
  • Find ways to help you relax before bed to fall asleep easier
  • Do not eat at least 3 hours before bed
    • If you eat right before you go to sleep your body will focus more on digesting the food or snacks instead of actually recovering
  • Avoid artificial blue light at night from electronic devices and use EMF protection
  • Use the sleep products on the next section
  • Do not use sleep medicine. All of the tips above are the medicine and a lot of them are free.
    • Melatonin is something people recommend to sleep better, but your body naturally produces it so it is best to teach your body how, which is by using the tips on this list, instead of taking it from an external source.

Best Product for Better Sleep

Along with using the tips in the previous section, you can also use these products to help you get better sleep quality. Remember, the most important thing to getting better sleep is to align your circadian rhythm and fix your light environment, which are part of working with nature.

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Blue Light Blockers

Used by Erling Haaland and now a lot more footballers, Blue Light Blockers are one of the most important tools to be used daily after the sun sets and it gets dark. These glasses help block artificial blue light at night, which ruins your circadian rhythm. Wear these until you go to bed and you will see a huge decrease in eye strain, as well as have a much easier time falling asleep.

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Red Light Bulbs, Flame Light Bulbs, or Candles

Similarly to how you want to block blue light at night with the glasses above, you also want to limit the amount of blue light you get from light bulbs, especially after sunset. Once the sun sets and it is dark it is best to use red light bulbs, flame light bulbs, or candles to help keep circadian rhythms aligned.

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Black Out Curtains

To create an ideal sleep environment you need black out curtains to make your room pitch black. Sleeping in a pitch black room will make it much easier to fall asleep.

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Organic Cotton Bed Sheets

Using bed sheets that are made from natural ingredients can also help you fall asleep easier. Double check what your sheets are made of and avoid anything that is made of polyester or similar products. You don’t want to be sleeping while covering yourself with products that are made of oil waste, like polyester.

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Nose Strips

Nose strips are a great tool that can help you fall asleep faster because they help make nasal breathing easier, which creates a more parasympathetic or calm nervous system response. All you have to do is put this over your nose and you are ready to go. However, for best results pair with the next product.

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Mouth Tape

Mouth tape, used by Erling Haaland, is another great way to help you fall asleep faster, especially if paired with the previous product. Some people may be scared to sleep with their mouth taped, but you have to remember that the body is very smart and knows that intuitively it should be breathing through the nose. If you are worried about mouth tape then start with the nose trips and find a way to build up the courage to wear the mouth tape eventually.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best soccer training program?

The best online soccer training program and soccer app is Football Entangled. There is no other program like Football Entangled on the market and this community, much more than just an app, will help you get closer to making your dreams a reality, plus they have an entire section on even more tips and tricks to optimize sleep and overall performance.

How much sleep should a soccer player get?

Soccer players, this includes professional soccer players, need 7-8 hours of high quality sleep daily. The more sleep the better, but then again you don’t want to over do sleeping and spend more than 8+ hours asleep.

Sometimes when you sleep for a very long time, too long, you might wake up tired instead of energized.Too little sleep is not good for you, but then again too much sleep is also not good for you. There is a balance to getting the perfect amount of sleep.

How can I learn more about the game?

To learn more about soccer the most important thing is to join a team and play the game as much as possible. If possible, analyze high level games as much as you can and your own games as well by recording them with a soccer camera. Also read soccer books, listen to podcasts, watch soccer documentaries, as well as some movies, tv shows, and anime.

Conclusion

In conclusion, improving sleep hygiene is one of the best ways to optimize every single aspect of your athletic performance, as an adult or youth soccer player. from athleticism, to mindset and recovery.

In this blog, I explained the benefits of high quality sleep, how poor sleep can negatively affect performance, the role of the circadian rhythm, as well as provided you with tips and recommended products to help you with any sleep problems you may be having.

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