Dozens of studies have shown that sleep is crucial for optimum memory, concentration and cognitive functioning. Some experts speculate that quality sleep is a key to not only overall health, but superior sports performance. In line with other professional teams, National Hockey League squads are taking a closer look at the quantity and quality of their players’ sleep schedules, which are often hampered by the demands of grueling travel across multiple time zones within short periods.
One researcher at the University of California is working with the San Jose Sharks in hopes of improving the teams’ performance record through proper sleep. Her diligence has paid off. The Sharks boast the best road record in the N.H.L. this season, winning a record 73 regular season games. Using the advice and suggestions of Cheri Mah, the Shark’s conditioning coach implemented new strategies that changed how and when the players trained before a game, and how they prepped for some restorative ZZZs.
“She’s been an amazing resource for us,” Mike Potenza, strength coach for the Sharks, told the New York Times. “I still speak with Cheri about different things we should be concerned about going through different time zones.”
For any competitive athlete, the advantages of a good night’s sleep are many, while the impact of sleep deprivation is noticeably detrimental. Players for the Sharks are encouraged to practice good sleep hygiene every day during game season. Before hitting the sack, players drink a special juice made of tart cherry, lavender and chamomile that helps stimulate melatonin production and also fights inflammation. Their rooms, which are kept dark, quiet and void of UV lights, also encourage hours of restful slumber. Nutrition plays a vital role in reliable sleep as well. Players take magnesium and zinc supplements to help doze off, and are steered away from prescription sleep aids like Ambien, which can be habit-forming over time.
Mah also suggests that players wind down for at least 30 minutes before heading to bed, relaxing their minds and bodies with reading, yoga or some other soothing activity. Her guidance is based on her previous research on the Stanford men’s basketball team, as well as later collaborations with the Warriors, which demonstrated that adequate sleep improved speed, explosiveness and accuracy.
Other research conducted at Harvard has shown that lack of sleep negatively impacts strength and testosterone levels – yet another reason to pay closer attention to the amount and quality of rest you’re getting.
You don’t have to be an elite performer or professional athlete to crave a solid night’s rest, but there are many factors at play. Besides avoiding late night meals, excessive alcohol and leaving tablets and TVs out of the bedroom, you might also consider your sleep surface. A sagging or uncomfortable mattress can lead to night after night of sleep disruptions and fitful bouts of tossing and turning. If you’re always waking up tired, and can’t seem to focus throughout the day, it may be time to shop for a new mattress.
Fortunately, the Sleep Specialists at Mattress World Northwest are well-equipped to find the best possible solution for your particular health issues, sleep position and comfort preferences. Browse our extensive inventory of inner spring, memory foam and latex mattresses from top manufacturers like Simmons, Sealy and Aireloom.
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