How Sleep can affect Athletic Performance

Tara Hackney PT, DPT, OCS, KTTP from Athletico Physical Therapy discusses how athletes quality of sleep can affect their performance -plus- the best sleep positions for proper spine alignment. Tara earned her Orthopedic Clinical Specialty (OCS) certification in 2016 due to an interest in orthopedic rehabilitation. She holds certifications in Graston Technique, Kinesiotape, and FMS testing.

Sleep Improves Speed

recent Stanford study compared sprint performances in athletes when they followed their normal sleep routine and again after an extended sleep program. They found that average sprint times improved by about 4.5%. The same study found that these athletes had faster reaction times when well rested. I can’t think of a single sport that doesn’t benefit from faster movement and reaction times.

Sleep Improves Athletic Skills

The same Stanford study that showed improved speed with better sleep, also showed improved athletic skill with increased sleep. Basketball players that improved their sleep patterns shot, on average, 9% better with both free throws and 3 pointers.

Sleep Improves Mood

Ok. The fact that better sleep improves mood shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody, but there is objective data showing that people feel happier when they are well rested. This can carry over onto the athletic field with improved morale. Professional teams aren’t afraid to let go of all-star talent if their locker room presence is toxic because they know what kind of effect that can have on a team’s success. Avoiding that negative environment can make the difference in a team’s season.

Sleep Improves Strength

Your body’s natural chemicals that improve strength, like human growth hormone and testosterone, are both affected by sleep. This can affect strength levels over the long run. In the short term, some case studies seem to indicate that improved sleep leads to better strength performance. This doesn’t come as any surprise given sleep’s effect on speed and athleticism mentioned earlier.

Sleep Decreases Injury Rates

This study from the Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics shows how adolescent athletes that got less than 8 hours of sleep each night were 1.7 times more likely to have an injury than those that got more sleep. Seeing how sleep improves both your physical and mental performance, it’s easy to see how a lack of sleep can have the opposite effects.

It may be time to look at the priorities of our young athletes and figure out how to prioritize sleep in the mix of school, school sports, club sports, homework, and a budding social life. It may be the missing factor that is holding you or your child back from your athletic goals. Figuring out a way to get in at least 8 hours of sleep a day and possibly a nap or two will benefit you in multiple ways.

If you would like to learn more from an Athletico physical therapist, please use the button below to schedule a free injury screen at a clinic near you.

CLICK TO SCHEDULE A FREE INJURY SCREEN

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Tips to Get a Good Night’s Sleep

By Karen Malkin Health Counseling 

In an ideal world, you’d simply drop off into a peaceful slumber every night, however, sleep—or a lack of good sleep—can often cause you to feel bad emotionally and physically. In fact, research shows that sleep is a complex state that affects a wide range of your body’s mechanisms, including:

• brain plasticity
• memory
• emotional processing
• cardiovascular function
• respiratory function
• cellular function
• immune function

A large study also shows the specific interconnectivity of insomnia and depression. It’s clear that sleep affects your overall wellness. [1]

About Insomnia
Today, with more than 40 million Americans struggling with insomnia, sleep disorders are at epidemic proportions. And they not only effect adults (they are especially common in women); up to 25% of children also suffer from sleep disorders! [2, 3]

Those who suffer from insomnia—which is defined as a having difficulty sleeping for more than 4 weeks—are commonly hyper-aroused and have an increased metabolic rate across the 24-hour circadian cycle. This may explain why they are less sleepy during the day by objective measures than “normal” sleepers. But what are some of the causes of insomnia?

Common Medical Conditions
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Chronic pain
  • Sleep apnea and snoring
Other Common Contributors
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Prescription and over-the-counter drugs
Quality Sleep: 10 Tips

To combat insomnia, here are some specific areas of sleep hygiene you may want to focus on:

1. Follow the rhythm of life.
Establish a regular bed and rising time, get exposure to early morning sunlight and dim evening light, and maintain regular times for meals and exercise. (Although napping has health benefits, it can worsen the effects of insomnia.)

2. Manage intake of caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, and other drugs. 
These are all sleep disruptors. Recommendations about caffeine may not be conservative enough given its significant half-life.

3. Avoid exercise before bed. 
Regular cardiovascular exercise promotes healthy sleep, but not 3 to 4 hours prior to bed (it raises your core body temperature, and can interfere with sleep).

4. Avoid high glycemic and hard-to-digest foods in the evening. 
Instead, opt for complex carbs; they may help transport tryptophan, a precursor to melatonin.

5. Create a healthy sleep environment. 
Keep your bedroom cool (about 68ºF), completely dark, quiet, and as “green” possible. If possible, use HEPA filtration to clean the air and choose organic and non-toxic bedding and mattress.

6. Limit screen time before bed. 
Blue light from your computer and phone screens can cause melatonin suppression and disrupt sleep. [4] Smartphones offer a blue light filter that can be enabled by the user and glass lenses now offer blue-light filtering.

7. Move your clock. 
Clock watching merely stimulates wakefulness. Ideally, position the clock away from the bed.

8. Use mind-body techniques to manage hyperarousal. 
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) addresses sleep-related dysfunctional thoughts that trigger arousal. An excellent resource is a free app called “CBT-i Coach” that provides various relaxation techniques. For best results, couple that with modalities such as mindfulness meditation, muscular relaxation, self-hypnosis, breathing exercises, and guided imagery.

9. Using your bed only for sleep and sex. 
Minimize wakeful time spent there by going to bed only when sleepy. If more than 15-20 minutes of nighttime wakefulness occurs, get out of bed, do a non-stimulating activity, and then return to bed once you feel sleepy.

10. Consider supplementation. 
When discontinuing hypnotics or otherwise indicated, short- term supplementation with herbs like valerian, passionflower, lemon balm, lavender, chamomile, and/or hops can be helpful. Melatonin is useful in older populations or if you have circadian irregularities. Always couple this with other sleep hygiene recommendations.

Quantity of Sleep: How Much Is Enough?

According to Dr. Param Dedhia, MD, Director of Sleep Medicine at Canyon Ranch, it is a fallacy that we need less sleep as we get older. Most all adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. But it evolves throughout adulthood, with older people getting less deep sleep. They are also more arousable at night; however, they are able to better cope with arousals.[5]

Some of the consequences of poor sleep include decreased tolerance for pain and hunger, explains Dr. Dedhia.[6, 7] The following sleep and/or stress chemicals do double duty as hunger chemicals:

Cortisol   |   Signals stress
Hypocretin / Orexin   |   Difficulty staying awake
Neuropeptide Y   |   Carbohydrate craving
Gallanin   |   Fat craving
Ghrelin   |   Immediate hunger signal

To avoid cravings during the day, it’s best to do all you can to clock your 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. But ultimately, it’s impossible to force sleep. We can set the stage and be receptive to it, but we cannot intentionally “go to sleep.” Letting go and succumbing to slumber may be the most important thing we can do to get that perfect night’s sleep.

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Learn about fatigue that cannot be resolved by sleep

Dr. Brian Cole and Steve Kashul talk with Dr. Gina Sirchio about the common reasons for fatigue and when fatigue is not resolved by additional  hours of sleep. Dr. Gina Sirchio DC, CCN is a Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner from the Institute for Functional Medicine.

Functional Medicine determines how and why illness occurs and restores health by addressing the root causes of disease for each individual.

The Institute for Functional Medicine

Sports Medicine Weekly on 670 The Score

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Common Hand Injuries: Text Thumb; Little League Pitchers: Do’s & Don’ts; Importance of Sleep for Optimal Recovery

Episode 17.35 Rerun

Segment One (01:10): Dr. Nik Verma sitting in this week for Dr. Cole joins Steve andImage result for thumb overuse Nicole Kauppila from Athletico Physical Therapy to discuss Tech Thumb injury.

Each year as we approach the holidays, smartphones are listed as a top gift.  With use of smart phones – tech-related injuries called “tech-thumb” resulting from unnatural movements like constant texting are on the rise.

New smartphones often means even more time straining thumbs, in fact young adults spend a staggering one-third of their waking hours on smart phones. Nicole describes causes, symptoms, prevention and treatment for overuse injuries of the hand.


 Segment Two (11:46): Dr. Nik Verma, Head Team Physician for the Chicago White Sox talks with Steve about how to avoid overuse throwing injuries in young athletes; avoid training in one sport all year long, high pitch velocity and pitch counts that can cause damage from repetitive load on the growth plates of young athletes.

Image result for little league pitcher


Segment Three (20:14): Todd Sayer, PT from ATI Physical Therapy talks about the importance of sleep for optimal recovery; the correct supportive neutral sleep position; avoiding compressed shoulder joint in side sleepers.

How you sleep dictates how you perform, so whether you are falling short on logging enough sleep each night or poor sleep posture is inhibiting a solid day’s performance, making a few simple changes can help to enable a good night’s rest and support your body’s ability to adapt and adjust.

Todd Sayer  is a Senior Regional Director with ATI. He has 18 years of clinical experience specializing in treatment outpatient orthopedic and sports medicine injuries as well as chronic pain and post-operative care.

Overcoming Sleep Challenges and Discomfort

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The Importance of Sleep for Dancers; Treating Hand & Wrist Injuries

Episode 17.26  Rerun

Segment One (01:25): Julie O’Connell PT, DPT, OCS, ATC, Performing Arts Medicine importance of sleep for dancersProgram Manager at Athletico-River North talks dancers vs other athletes regarding sleep; what happens during sleep for dancers and useful tips for quality sleep. While the days are getting shorter, rehearsals are getting longer and cutting into valuable time meant for counting sheep.

Julie specializes in the treatment of dancers and performing artists and has extensive experience working with organizations like The Joffrey Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and Broadway in Chicago.

The CDC recommends 8-10 hours of sleep for teens 13-18 years old, and 7 or more hours per night for adults 18-60 years old. This can be difficult to achieve for dancers, whose rehearsals consist of specialized physical activity of high volume, frequency and intensity throughout the week. Dancers also don’t usually have an off-season, which can contribute to increased incidence of altered sleep-wake rhythms, illness and musculoskeletal injuries. More>>


Segment Two (13:11): Dr. John Fernandez from Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush describes microsurgery; recent innovations in hand and wrist surgery; re-plantation and transplantation of limbs; types of hand injuries experienced by athletes at all levels.

Dr. John FernandezDr. Fernandez has created and innovated some of the advanced surgeries currently popularized in the treatment of the hand, wrist, and elbow. His original research has led to techniques minimizing surgical trauma while maximizing outcomes. As an inventor, he holds patents in some of the very implants developed for these minimally invasive surgeries.

As director of microsurgery for Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush, he has performed hundreds of successful microsurgical procedures. These have included replantation of amputated arms, hands, and digits, as well as complex reconstructions for deformity and wounds.

He is a board certified member of the ABOS and holds the highest distinction in hand surgery with a certificate of added qualification in hand and microsurgery. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and a member of the American Association for Hand Surgery as well as the American Society for Surgery of the Hand.

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