Lifestyle Choices: Sleep, Hydration, Nutrition
Just because the statistics say you are likely to have a car wreck doesn’t mean you want to increase those odds by texting and driving. Lifestyle choices are an example of small things, done right over time, adding up to extreme benefits. Most people do not take into consideration the impact that sleep, hydration, and nutrition can have on the human performance mechanism. The human body is extremely complex, thus making injury prevention extremely complex. It is a series of risk management and decision making that ultimately improves your odds of remaining injury free or injury prone.
Sleep is clearly something we all need however most of us do not take into account how serious of a role it plays in helping our body prepare and repair. During sleep our body uses that time to not only repair our bodily tissues but also to reorganize thoughts and input from the day through neural plasticity. If we do not give our body and brain the time it needs (i.e. sleep), we are increasing risk of illness, injury, fatigue, and other disorders.
Whether you travel to tournaments, spend time on the road for minor league ball, or stay over at a friends house to play video games all night, you are wreaking havoc on your central nervous system and musculoskeletal system. In fact, Stanford University Sleep Study Lab and Professor Cheri Mah, M.S. did some research showing the effect sleep debt (accumulation of not getting appropriate amounts of sleep) has on performance, both positively and negatively.
Chronic Sleep Loss Results In:
Decreased submax and max weight training (perception of weight being lifted is greater than what it would be on a good nights sleep thus changing training session output (i.e. it feels HARDER than it normally would)
1.7x increased risk of injury
Slower reaction time equivalent to legal intoxication
Reduced glucose metabolism by 30-40% (less energy, inability to gain lean muscle)
4x risk increase of catching a cold (illness susceptibility)
Improving Sleep Performance Results In:
Increased basketball shooting percentages (9% in both free-throws and 3-pointers)
Faster times in NFL Combine Drills (40-yard dash, 20-yard shuttle, 3-cone drill)
12% faster reaction time
Decreased fatigue and daytime sleepiness
Improved ratings of practices and games (improved perception of training improves impact of results of that session)
Strategies to Improve Sleep and Recovery
Reduce caffeine and alcohol intake in late afternoon
Good hydration and nutrition
Make your room dark like a cave and make the room cold <68 degrees Fahrenheit
Power down all technology and screened devices within an hour of going to sleep
Bedtime routine starting 30 minutes before desired sleep time (shower, brushing teeth, reading etc.)
Sleep routine with consistent time asleep and awake. Adapt this to upcoming events, travel schedules, or school/practice schedules 1-2 weeks out.
8-10 hours of sleep per night. This is not equal to time in bed. Plan on being awake for at least 1 hour of time in bed so if your goal is 8:00, go to bed in time for 9+
Hydration is also taken for granted. As little as 2% decrease in body mass from loss of water can lead to impaired cognitive function and muscle performance. (150lbs X 2% = 3lbs) This also leads to a negative perception of performance which is not good during competition or training. Water is not the only key to maintain hydration. It’s also important to replace electrolytes (sodium, magnesium, calcium, potassium). This can be done through an electrolyte beverage during high exertion as these are easily absorbed. Electrolyte balance can be attained through a well-rounded and nutritious diet including fruits and veggies. The body is made up of over 60% water and the brain is made up of over 80% water. It is crucial that we maintain fluid balance during high exertion and high temperature times of the year. Athletes must hydrate before games, between innings, and after games, especially during tournament weekends. A good rule of thumb during high exertion times of the year is 1ounce per pound of bodyweight. During normal days with little to no training you can get by with 1ounce per 2lbs of bodyweight. To get started, grab a water bottle, calculate how many bottles you need to drink a day and go from there. (Body weight divided by ounces of bottle = how many bottles a day ; 180lbs/20ounces = 9 bottles a day. If loss of weight is experienced after training or competition you should shoot for 20-24oz of replacement fluid per pound of bodyweight lost.
Nutrition is all about making the best choices possible. At this point in time it is no secret that things from the ground to our mouth are better options than things from a package to our mouth. We often tell our kids that you do not put the same fuel in a Ferrari that you do in a Prius. No offense, but a Prius is not gonna run like the Ferrari. Likewise, if you put regular fuel in a high performance engine, it is eventually going to break down, if not immediately. Today’s run and gun baseball style leaves parents and athletes with fast food options, concession stand nachos, and a refreshing coke on a hot day. Processed foods such as these create an inflammatory response in our body that decelerates recovery and has a profound impact on energy and focus. Processed sugars have become highly addictive and have been shown to create a similar electrical response in the brain as cocaine. Once something becomes addictive the hormonal response to that addiction can become life threatening. Not only do we need to make better decisions of what we eat for preparing to play or compete, but what we need to
repair our bodies. After a game or practice there is tissue damage that needs to be repaired in order to create a positive adaptation. If we immediately introduce food that increases inflammation on top of what we have already created we are asking for a disaster. It is like throwing gas on a forest fire, better yet a dumpster fire. As often as you can, make the best choice, food from the ground not from a package. Keep in mind this may take a little extra effort, time, or commitment. Preparing a cooler with pre-made meals for the weekend is a great option to help properly fuel for weekends on the road. For quick recovery between training and competition carbohydrates such as rice, pasta, potatoes, bread, oatmeal, black beans, and hydration are key. For long-term adaptation proteins such as grilled/baked/satueed chicken, fish or less fatty cuts of red meat like beef sirloin; eggs or even whey protein drink is sufficient to optimize recovery. Combinations of both of these are key for ultimate recovery and preparation.
Stay tuned for part 3 ; Off-season, Training, Yearly-Monthly-Weekly-Daily Recovery
Director of Training - APEC
CSCS-RSCC, CAFS, CFSC, PES, POSE, GI-GPS, USAW