To improve your performance on court, are you prepared to do something that will help you to:
- Stay focused and alert
- Be more creative
- Feel energized and motivated
- Make better decisions
- Stay calmer under pressure
- Improve/lighten your mood
- Maintain healthy weight
- Get fewer illnesses
- Improve your memory
- Enhance injury healing
- Improve coordination
- Increase accuracy in tasks
- Improve balance
- Increase responsiveness
- Boost your immune system
This performance enhancing activity works while you are in bed at night and it's FREE. WOW! Surely this is too good to be true? What is this miracle cure?
It’s the body and mind’s own miracle cure: SLEEP.
So, read on and learn how YOU can benefit by using some simple strategies for better sleep. Consider these strategies part of your match preparation. Start your better sleep program and see improved performance. Start tonight. Just sleep on it!
HOW MUCH SLEEP?
Humans spend an average of 36% of their lives asleep. Clearly, we need it if we spend so much time doing it. While sleep appears to be restful, and we feel refreshed after a good night’s sleep; the brain is NOT resting, it is highly energetic and active while we sleep. Some areas of the brain are more active at night than during the day. Sleep is NOT a waste of time or a luxury, it is a NECESSITY.
To gain the full benefits from sleep, we require a sufficient amount of good quality sleep. Ideally, adults should get 7-8 hours per night. Young people (aged 10-24), need more sleep, between 8-10 hours, as their developing brains and bodies need more time to restore overnight and replenish energy stores.
Many people do NOT get the amount or good quality of sleep needed to be healthy. The average adult gets 6.5 hours sleep per night. Many teens only get an average of 5 hours/night on school nights. That is simply not enough.
Studies show the negative effects of chronic sleep deprivation, including links to some mental illnesses and:
- accidents and death
- chronic medical issues (obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes)
- use of sedatives (alcohol and other legal and illegal drugs) as attempt to facilitate sleep
- use of stimulants (caffeine and other legal and illegal drugs) to compensate for lack of daytime alertness
Most people occasionally experience disturbed sleep. For athletes, any sleep disruption can be worrying. Chronic sleep problems may be caused by sleep disorders, which are medical and/or psychological conditions. These include sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, night terrors, sleep walking and others. Insomnia is the most common, affecting 30-50% of the population in any year. Insomnia symptoms include:
- Taking more than 30 minutes to get to sleep.
- Can’t stay asleep. Wakes in night for over 30 minutes. Difficult to return to sleep.
- Early waking (much earlier than planned). Can’t get back to sleep after waking.
- A combination of the above.
Transient Insomnia (<1 month) arises from stress associated with tennis, injuries (and associated pain), relationship problems, finances, family, grief and other major life changes. Transient insomnia is common and is a non-permanent response to life’s challenges. When the problem resolves, sleep and daytime energy usually return to normal.
- Worry about stressful situations, including worry about not sleeping well, feeds a cycle of poor sleep!
- Common psychological problems like depression and anxiety can interfere with sleep, and sleep problems are seen in many types of psychological concerns. The good news is treatment is available to help manage these issues.
- Seek guidance from a medical doctor if your sleep is disrupted more than 2-3 weeks.
- Identification of the cause of disrupted sleep will lead to optimal treatment. Sometimes there is no obvious cause.
- Thankfully, simple bedtime routine changes will usually restore restful sleep for the most prevalent sleep problems.
For athletes who travel frequently, jet lag and travel fatigue are also important concerns.
Jet lag is a body clock disorder caused by misalignment between your schedule and your body’s internal signals to sleep or to stay awake.
• Your mental alertness, temperature, gastrointestinal activity, appetite, muscle strength and flexibility all fluctuate over 24 hours.
• This cycle or “circadian rhythm” is regulated by hormones (including melatonin) in response to the natural light changes from day to night.
• These “circadian” rhythms are upset by long distance travel over multiple time zones.
• Circadian rhythms are simply explained in this website http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/interactive/circadian
• Jet lag typically resolves in 3-7 days as the body’s clock naturally resets with the new day/light pattern.
Travel fatigue is a more chronic situation caused by the cumulative effect of frequent travel. It arises more gradually over time and is not associated with any specific trip. It causes persistent fatigue, recurrent illnesses, changes in behavior and mood, and loss of motivation.
Worry about sleep disruption is a very common issue. It is not helpful and often will maintain or reinforce any sleep problem. Other anxieties and worries may arise at bedtime when there are no other distractions. These also disrupt restful sleep.
Poor bedtime habits, such as non-restful bedrooms, use of digital devices prior to bed, eating too late, eating spicy or calorie/kilojoule-laden food before bed, use of caffeine or other stimulants later in the day, and drinking alcohol before bed also frequently cause disrupted sleep.
Apply these simple tips to help you wake up fresh, energized and ready to play your best tennis.
Good ‘Sleep Hygiene’: Create your own sleep sanctuary in the bedroom each week.
- Lights out: a dark room is best for sleep. Natural sunlight helps you wake up fresh and alert.
- Comfort: set a cool (not cold) temperature. Choose a quiet room, wear earplugs.
- Unplug! The internet and social media is distracting and stimulating and is probably keeping you awake.
- The blue light radiation from the screen on your phone or tablet (and TV) significantly reduces melatonin production (an important sleep hormone) and delays the drive to sleep. It also reduces your alertness the next day.
- Turn off devices at least 60-90 minutes before bed, or use a blue-light reducing app.
- Home comforts: when you travel bring small items from home to relax you, such as your own pillow, soft toy, or small personal items.
- Unwind...mentally slow down with calming activities and/or learn meditation and mindfulness to prepare you for sleep. An overthinking brain will keep you awake. Ask Athlete Assistance and the PHCPs for more resources.
Jettison Jet Lag
- Preparation: pre-book your favorite seat and food. Take healthy snacks, music, and eye shades.
- On the plane: drink LOTS of water; wear compression socks; use a neck pillow; stretch and move when possible; avoid alcohol, caffeine and overeating; adjust your schedule to your destination.
- On arrival: adjust your schedule to the arrival time; go outside, the natural light helps reset your body clock; train lightly; recover well; keep hydrating; be social, it helps you adjust faster.
- USANA, WTA's official supplement supplier, now has melatonin available in its Pure Rest product, which must be prescribed by a doctor and taken as directed for optimal results.
- Melatonin helps shift the body’s clock and induces sleep. It may help players whose jet lag interferes with performance.
- Research indicates it is of limited use for other sleep conditions or sleep disorders.
- Talk to your medical physician if you have questions about Pure Rest.
Good sleep hygiene will help resolve the majority of short-term sleep issues, including jet lag. More significant or chronic sleep issues and true sleep disorders usually require further assessment by a physician, psychologist or sleep specialist.
Most can be assisted with more specific therapy and behavioral or relaxation techniques. If you are having trouble sleeping, see your medical physician, or other qualified medical professional.
The contents of the Health site are for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, psychiatric, psychological, health care or health management advice. The materials herein are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this site. Reliance on any information provided herein is solely at your own risk.