Do your sleeping habits impact on your  performance? | Performance Plus

Do your sleeping habits impact on your performance?

Do your sleeping habits impact on performance?

How well do you sleep? Did you know that sleep, or more importantly lack thereof will have a serious impact upon your performance on the baseball diamond. Lack of sleep can come from a variety of ways. Perhaps you’ve just had a baby, you have stress at work, you are travelling to a tournament and it’s all exciting. There are many ways that sleep can be disrupted, however there are thankfully many things that you can do to help.

People have genetic dispositions to how they sleep. Some are night owls and struggle to sleep until late at night, others are known as larks. They like to rise and go to bed early. But what if the routine does not suit this? Lack of sleep creates what is called a sleep debt; for example if you need 8 hours sleep and you only get 7, then you are one hour in debt. This can accumulate over time, and needs to be paid back at some point. Too much sleep debt can have a negative impact upon your cognitive, physical and social wellbeing. 

For teenagers the more sleep the better. If you have less than 5 hours sleep a night for a week, your testosterone levels will drop by 15%. This will have a severe impact on your ability for developing strength and power. 

If you have an hour less sleep than you need you will have nearly 2 times more chance of injury.  Sleep is also the best tool for recovery, so it will take you longer to feel better after competing or injury. You also have poorer motor learning when you are tired, so learning new skills will be more difficult. Think about that the next time you go to a tournament and you are up all night.

The latter part of the night is also where REM sleep occurs, if you are cutting this off you are losing a ton of quality sleep. So get to bed earlier if you need or are likely to wake up early.

So what are the obstacles that are preventing you from sleep? Phone and tech, noise, light, distractions and pain are some. In order to sleep well you need to first address the obstacles. Life (and Baseball) is based on routine. Make sure you have consistent sleep hygiene or patterns. Train yourself to sleep well, develop a routine. Here are some tips to help you with this.

Be consistent: Establish a consistent sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. Our bodies like regularity and with a regular sleep schedule, it will naturally start to anticipate sleep. 

Sleep in a cave: Make your bedroom cave-like–dark, quiet, and cool. Blackout curtains are strongly recommended. Earplugs can minimise noise, and a fan can circulate air while blocking out other noises. Cooler temperatures are better for sleep, so start at 20 degrees and decrease the temperature a few degrees each night until you find the right temperature for you.

Establish a routine: Develop and stick to a 20- to 30-minute routine before bed. Adopt a practice such as reading or listening to music so that your body knows sleep is near. 

Bathroom before bed: Hydrate during the day and minimise liquids one to two hours before you sleep. Use the bathroom before bed to cut down on awakenings. 

Avoid electronic screens: Stay away from TV, laptops, and video games one hour before bed. The emitted light can prevent sleep. 

Avoid caffeine and alcohol: Refrain from caffeine after 3 p.m. Alcohol can prevent REM sleep and fragment sleep during the second half of the night.

Watch your diet: Cherry Juice can help; some Major League teams use this to also assist with recovery.  Melatonin has varying benefits across individuals; it can work well for some but not others. Quality control can be an issue with manufacturing processes and therefore may disrupt rather than help your sleep. Avoid fatty and sugary foods just before bedtime.

For sleep only: Reserve your bedroom and bed for sleeping only. Don’t watch TV, eat, or do work in bed.

Get enough sleep: Obtaining eight to 10 hours of sleep every night, and not just before a game or competition, is critical. Ten- to 30-minute power naps provide a two- to three-hour boost in alertness and performance. Be cautious of longer naps, which can result in sleep inertia (feelings of grogginess) upon awakening from deep stages of sleep. Eliminate naps if you have difficulty sleeping at night.

Pay off your sleep debt: Chronically obtaining less sleep than your body needs builds a sleep debt over time. For optimal functioning and sports performance, you should eliminate your sleep debt by gradually extending your sleep duration, such as increasing from your typical seven hours per night to seven and a half hours for one week, then eight hours per night the following week. 

Be patient: Reducing your sleep debt takes more than one night or weekend of good sleep!

So now you know how important sleep is for your baseball, are you getting enough?