As Michigan high school athletes return to sports competitions, most are not getting the sleep they need to perform at their best, says Dr. Meeta Singh, Sleep Specialist at Henry Ford Health System.
“Since sleep can affect reaction time and accuracy, it is important to ensure that an athlete is getting adequate sleep,” said Singh in a press release.
Singh is the medical director of the Sleep Disorder Center at Henry Ford Medical Center – Columbus in Novi and Henry Ford Medical Center – New Center One in Detroit. She is also part of Henry Ford’s sports medical team, advising teams in the four professional sports leagues: Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association (NBA), National Football League, and National Hockey League. She led a study, titled “Urgent Wake Up Call for the NBA,” published this month in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, looking at sleep-related problems and those caused by the NBA season travel.
In addition, Singh treats sports students with insomnia and offers sleep health education that helps develop positive sleep behavior and enables athletes to achieve their desired level of performance. “Sleep and rest are essential parts of an athlete that are often ignored,” says Singh. She also believes that restful sleep is a cornerstone of successful recovery and performance for athletes.
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Nick Parkinson, director of sports training at the Henry Ford Center for Sports Medicine, also understands the relationship between proper sleep and performance. “The importance of athletes sleeping cannot be underestimated. Our sports trainers and sports performance specialists discuss proper sleep hygiene with the athletes we support and emphasize their role in their recovery, ”says a Parkinson’s press release.
Singh says that overlooking the importance of sleep and allowing the body to recover parallels the discussion in the 1960s about the importance of hydration for athletes. “Back then, people wondered why it was important to drink enough water to perform well,” says Singh. Sleep and recovery are similar to being an integral part of achieving peak performance, and injury prevention and recovery. “It is important to improve reaction time, speed, hand-eye coordination, judgment and adaptation to tactics during competition,” says Singh.
These helpful tips from Dr. Singh can help athletes build healthier sleeping habits and get the right amount of sleep.
- Limit caffeine. Caffeine is a popular ingredient in many pre-workout drinks, and many athletes use it for an energy boost. However, consuming caffeine late in the day can make it difficult to fall asleep and fall asleep. Athletes should try to keep a log of their intake to determine when to stop consuming and how much is okay.
- Keep a regular sleep schedule. The body has an internal clock that is largely influenced by the environment. Going to bed and waking up at about the same time each day can give the body’s internal clock a natural rhythm that can make people feel more awake during the day and easily fall asleep at night.
- Train early. When you exercise later in the day, people often get a boost of energy that keeps them up late into the night. For example, exercising after 9 p.m. can increase body temperature and make sleep difficult. However, research shows that exercising in the morning can help you sleep deeper, and that exercising in the afternoon can help reduce insomnia.
- Pull out the plug. Nothing can keep you awake at night like a buzzing smartphone. Additionally, the blue light emitted by a phone can slow down the production of melatonin and make sleep difficult. Keep electronics out of reach while you sleep. And as an added bonus, if their phone is their alarm they’ll be forced out of bed in the morning.
- Concentrate on breathing. Focusing on your breath can help stabilize your heart rate and relax your body. A popular breathing technique is the 4-7-8 exercise, where you inhale through your nose for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds, and exhale for eight seconds.
- Keep it dark, cool, and calm. Having the right environment is an important part of falling asleep … and falling asleep.
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