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ESPN Magazine: Athlete monitoring in the NBA

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In a league where teams often play back-to-back nights in different cities requiring late, post-game travel, sufficient sleep is hard to come by and fatigue, in due time, can take its toll.

Accordingly, last season the tech-savvy Dallas Mavericks became the first NBA team to partner with Fatigue Science, followed by the Brooklyn Nets, with additional teams joining for the upcoming 2014-2015 season. Using the Readiband system, the Mavs monitor players’ sleep and fatigue to help ensure they are ready come game time.

The Mavericks’ training staff recently spoke with ESPN regarding the team’s use of technology to monitor its players.

“If you told an athlete you had a treatment that would reduce the chemicals associated with stress, that would naturally increase human growth hormone, that enhances recovery rate, that improves performance, they would all do it. Sleep does all of those things,” said Mavericks’ Head Athletic Trainer, Casey Smith.

This is exactly what Stanford School of Medicine researcher, Cheri Mah, demonstrated in 2011 study on the impacts of sleep extension to athletic performance. The study, published in the journal of Sleep, examined 11 varsity men’s basketball team players and found that increasing sleep to 10 hours a night decreased injury risk and improved players’ reaction time, sprint times, and free-throw percentage.

“Once guys get a feeling for performing at a higher level,” says Jeremy Holsopple, the team’s Athletic Performance Director, “it’s a big difference from feeling like s—. Which they didn’t even think was feeling like s—.”

Holsopple says that “teams lose 10 to 15 games a year because players aren’t even remotely close to physical and mental freshness,” which undoubtedly is something the Mavericks want to mitigate this season.

Read the full article here, or pick up October 27’s copy of ESPN The Magazine NBA Preview Issue.

Tips for athletes to get their rest before a big game

You have done all the training, eaten all the right things, and are feeling ready for the big competition tomorrow. How do you make sure all your confidence isn’t derailed by one bad night of sleep? Here are some tips for athletes to get a good nights sleep before a big competition:

1. First, make sure sleep is part of your regular training schedule. Sufficient sleep is important to athletic performance – have a routine and make regular sleep a priority. For professional teams and athletes, sleep monitoring and management is just as important  as managing training exercises and nutrition.

2. Leading up to the big game or competition, try to bank some extra sleep. A study conducted at Stanford University demonstrated that increasing sleep to 10 hours per night for a period of time improved athletic performance for tennis and basketball players. Additionally, banking extra sleep ahead of time, will reduce the impact of restricted sleep the night before the big game or competition.

3. The day before the big event, plan to wind down early and do some relaxing activities. Make sure you keep with your sleep routine and take extra care not to do anything that might disturb sleep later – like eating a heavy meal too late or consuming caffeine after noon. To help promote sleep in the evening, shut off TV‘s, computers and smart phones, take a shower or bath, and do some stretching or reading to focus your mind and reduce pre-game anxiety. Make sure you have everything you need for the competition set out and ready so there is nothing to worry about.

4. Pre-game nerves are hard to control – if you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night, don’t panic. Remind yourself that you have made sleep part of your regular routine and banked extra sleep ahead time. Don’t get up and turn on lights or check your phone. Breathe deeply and do things to slow down your mind – like counting backwards or listening to quiet relaxing music.

5. If the day of the game arrives and you are worried that you haven’t slept enough the night before to perform at your best –  you can plan a carefully timed nap. A 20 minute nap about two hours before your event should provide extra alertness just in time for you to hit the field.

Battling nerves to get a solid eight hours of sleep the night before a big competition is not always easy. The best strategy to ensuring you have sufficient rest to perform your best is to manage sleep as part of your regular training program.

If you would like even more tips on how to improve your performance by managing your sleep, download and read our comprehensive eBook on the Science of Sleep. You’ll learn: how sleep deprivation affects an athlete’s mental and physical performance, how sleep quantity and quality can be measured, and how Fatigue Science’s technology can help elite sports teams of all types manage sleep and improve performance. DOWNLOAD NOW.

For athletes sleep is about more than just winning a game

 

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We often talk about the importance of managing athletes sleep and schedules to optimize a professional athlete’s performance at game time, but the less immediate benefits of ensuring players are rested can be seen in the length of their careers and likelihood of health-issues or injuries.

Yes, a strategically rested basketball player will be 9.3% more likely to make that three-point shot at the buzzer and a baseball player more likely to swing at the right time to hit that fastball – but there is evidence to show that athletes who pay attention to sleep suffer less injuries and have longer careers.

A study conducted at the University of California looked at whether over-scheduling and lack of sleep contributed to injuries in youth athletes and concluded that fatigue-related injuries were related to sleeping less than 6 hours the night before a game. Additionally, the study concluded that a number of factors, including activity volume, intensity, sleep time and recovery time should be considered in order to optimize the player safety when scheduling sporting events. Another study, conducted by sleep researcher Dr. Christopher Winter, examined the fatigue levels of NFL and MLB players and found a relation between athlete sleepiness and career longevity in both leagues.

When an athlete is not getting sufficient sleep, the effects on personal performance and health are threefold: First, fatigue affects reaction time, making a tired athlete slower to react to a potential hit on the ice or the field. Second, fatigue affects the body’s immune system, making players more susceptible to bouts of illness. Third, shorter sleep periods do not provide the body with sufficient time to regenerate cells and repair the abuse from workouts and games. Over time, game-earned injuries, health issues and the inability to fully recover can wear on an athlete and contribute to early retirement or career-ending injuries and performance failure.

In professional sports, season’s are lengthy and require careful planning to manage an athlete’s performance to reduce mid or end season fatigue. Including the post-season, NHL players can expect to play up to 34 weeks out of the year. It’s not much better for NBA, MLB and NFL players who, respectively, can see up to 32, 30, and 20 weeks of action in a season. Even Tiger Woods was fatigued by the end of this year’s PGA season.

For optimal sport performance and fatigue mitigation, it’s not just about how long you sleep, it’s also about when you sleep and how well you sleep. Factor in the long professional sport season, team travel and practice, and scheduling sleep to maximize the performance of a team or athlete becomes a complicated endeavour – but one that team management should examine for both the short and longer term performance of their athletes.

Check out this blog post to see which professional athletes are currently making sleep a priority.

Why athletes should make sleep a priority in their daily training

In 2008, Usain Bolt broke records at the Beijing Olympics by being the first person in history to hold both the 100m and 200m world records. By the 2012 Olympics, Bolt became the first man in history to win 6 Olympic gold medals in sprinting.

So what does Bolt consider to be the most important part of his daily training regime? None other than sleep.

“Sleep is extremely important to me – I need to rest and recover in order for the training I do to be absorbed by my body” – Usain Bolt.

At Fatigue Science we know how important sleep is to an athletes performance, reaction time and recovery time. Our fatigue measurement technology is used by professional sports teams such as the Vancouver Canucks to ensure enough sleep is incorporated into athletes training regimes.

So how much sleep do the professionals get? And how can sleep reduction effect your performance.

Key Infographic Takeaways

  • By incorporating adequate sleep into their routine, tennis players get a 42% boost in hitting accuracy
  • Sleep improves split-second decision making ability by 4.3%
  • After 4 days of restricted sleep, athletes maximum bench press drops 20lbs
  • Roger Federer gets 11 to 12 hours sleep per night
  • Lebron James gets 12 hours of sleep per night

 

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